UN hails opening of humanitarian corridor between Haiti, Dominican Republic

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The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) on Thursday welcomed the establishment of a humanitarian corridor between the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti -- between Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince, a UN spokesman said.

"This will allow the speedy delivery of aid to the areas most affected by the earthquake," Martin Nesirky, the spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said at a news briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Nesirky said the government of Haitian President Rene Preval has accepted a proposal from the Dominican Republic for 150 Dominican military troops to patrol the corridor in cooperation with a contingent of Peruvian troops from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti.

The Dominican Republic has become the staging area for many of the arrivals of international relief supplies for Haitian earthquake victims.

Some sea access to the destroyed Port-au-Prince has also become functional, as the first ship entered the half-restored Haitian harbor on Thursday carrying 123 metric tons of supplies, said Nesirky.

He said the number of MINUSTAH personnel killed by the earthquake stood at 61 on Thursday. The number of unaccounted for has dropped to below 180, from about 500 on Monday, because the cell phone network has been revived allowing more contacts among UN personnel.

MINUSTAH, as well as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), says that the security situation remains under control in the capital as well as in the rest of the country, despite isolated cases of looting.

"These localized incidents are mostly in areas considered high risk prior to the disaster," said Nesirky.

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