Transcript: Update on Haiti Relief Effort

Published January 18, 2010

| FoxNews.com

The following is a rush transcript of the January 17, 2010, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRIT HUME, GUEST HOST: With us now are Lieutenant General Ken Keen, who heads the Haiti task force — he's down there — and Dr. Rajiv Shah, chief administrator of USAID and the president's point man for the crisis. Good morning and thanks to both of you.

DR. RAJIV SHAH, USAID: Good morning.

HUME: General Keen, let me begin with you, sir. To what extent is — are those supplies that were accumulating there at the airport where you are now getting out into the country to reach people?

LIEUTENANT GENERAL KEN KEEN: Well, we had a very good day yesterday, Brit. Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division who have only arrived within the last day or two delivered over 70,000 bottles of water and 130,000 rations.

And we're going to be able to increase that every day, but that's only what we are doing. The United Nations forces are doing likewise, as well as the international community.

But clearly, this is a disaster of epic proportions, and we've got a lot of work ahead of us.

HUME: How are you doing — how are you getting the material out into the countryside? Are you dropping it out of helicopters? Do you drive it in trucks? How is it working?

KEEN: Well, our nation can be proud, because our Navy immediately turned an aircraft carrier south right after the earthquake, and she arrived, as we had troops — so we are principally using the helicopters off the USS Carl Vinson.

And as we move other equipment in here, we'll be able to get more ground transportation to increase our tentacles out into the countryside. But right now, we're relying principally on helicopters.

HUME: Now, how is the — who's in control? Who's in charge? Who's coordinating all this? Is it — is it just — is it chaotic or is it — or is there an orderly kind of line of command down there now?

KEEN: Well, it — the control of it — we are here in support of the government of Haiti. We have established, in conjunction with the United Nations and the international community, a humanitarian coordination center where we all are represented in there 24 hours, seven days a week. We're doing that in the — co-located in the United Nations facilities.

I want to congratulate the nation of Brazil, in particular, the commander of the multinational forces here, Brazilian Major General Floriano Peixoto. I've known him for 30 years. We've worked together before. We're coordinating our efforts to do everything we can to get supplies out to the Haitian people.

HUME: Do you have a sense, sir, of what this death count is likely to end up being? We hear, you know, 50,000. We hear that people are having to be buried in mass graves. What is your estimate of that, if you have one?

KEEN: Well, I think it's too early to tell, but it's clear it is a significant — and I do know that the United Nations forces are doing everything they can to support the government of Haiti to take care of that and make sure, because there are issues, obviously, that we've got to deal with as we go forward.

HUME: Dr. Shah, let me turn to you. You were just there yesterday with Secretary Clinton. To what extent is the Haitian government functioning at all?

SHAH: Well, we had a chance to meet with President Preval yesterday during our trip to Haiti, and he asked us to do — to be coordinated with him and to work with him — and in response to his request to help provide services to the people of Haiti and to help rebuild Haiti in a specific way.

But it's worth stepping back and noting that, you know, this happened Tuesday just before sundown. And almost immediately, the president pulled us together and ordered a swift and aggressive, comprehensive and coordinated response. And that's what we're trying to deliver.

And so I had a chance to spend time with General Keen yesterday. We have our civilian and our military partners working in cooperation with the U.N. and with the government of Haiti to execute the president's orders. And we're really bringing all of the resources that we can deploy from across the federal government, whether it's helicopters from the Carl Vinson or whether it's, you know, humanitarian supplies from U.S. Agency for International Development...

HUME: Yeah.

SHAH: ... or others to make sure we address this problem as...

HUME: Yeah.

SHAH: ... comprehensively as we can.

HUME: It appears, just from looking at it from a distance, that there has been an outpouring of support, that the relief agencies, public and private both, are pouring material, supplies, food, water in there.

Is there any shortage of the stuff you need to distribute? Or is the problem mostly getting it distributed?

SHAH: Well, we're very, very focused on both of those challenges.

HUME: I understand that.

SHAH: And we've had to do that...

HUME: But do you have enough...

SHAH: ... in parallel.

HUME: Do you have enough supplies there? Are you getting enough material to distribute?

SHAH: We can always use more. For example, we sent down 600,000 humanitarian daily rations. I think 130,000 of those were delivered by helicopter yesterday and by...

HUME: Now, those are what, are they meals ready-to-eat of the kind that the military — MREs, and you tear them open, and you have...

SHAH: And daily — yeah, and those are daily rations, so those...

HUME: Right.

SHAH: ... will feed someone for a full day. But the need there, as estimated by the World Food Programme, is 8 million. So we're sending down more supplies, and we're...

(CROSSTALK)

HUME: Eight million a day?

SHAH: Well, it's 8 million for this initial period, because that's what the distribution system can handle. So we're really trying to address it in a comprehensive way and trying to get as many commodities, whether it's food or water, medical supplies, tents and tarps.

We need as many of those types of commodities as possible. We've mobilized a lot of that. We're staging a lot of it at Homestead Air Force Base in Miami and sending it down.

HUME: How are your — are your resources divided between the distribution of the — of the needed supplies and the evacuation of Americans who were said to live there — you know, some say 40,000 to 50,000. I don't know about that number, but how much are you doing of each of those tasks?

SHAH: Well, the president was very clear initially when he said the immediate priority is saving lives. So our first priority was to go in with urban search-and-rescue teams.

U.S. urban search-and-rescue teams were the first ones to hit the ground. These are teams with 70 people with great capabilities, specialized equipment, lighting. They work around the clock to try and save lives, and they've been successful.

HUME: This is digging people out from under broken buildings?

SHAH: Under broken buildings, under multiple layers of concrete. Sometimes they'll dig for 14, 16 hours before they get...

HUME: And how are they doing?

SHAH: ... someone saved.

HUME: How are they doing?

SHAH: And I had a chance to meet some of our guys from the Fairfax County and Los Angeles and Miami that have been successful. They've saved a couple dozen lives. Most are Haitian.

And they've coordinated an effort that really includes 30 teams and thousands of individuals from around the world engaged in this effort. So that was our immediate priority.

Our next priority, which started in parallel, of course, is getting those commodities down there and making sure we have the food, water, shelter, and basic needs met for the people of Haiti. That's an immediate priority that the whole government's coming together to supply.

And then, of course, working in close partnership with our military partners to make sure there's security and effective distribution. So if roads are blocked, we'll use helicopters. And then trying to bring it all together logistically and do more every single day so we can meet the needs.

HUME: Would you describe the Haitian government now as functional?

SHAH: Well, certainly, some ministries are more functional than others. We've — for example, the health minister has asked us to support the development of a hospital system and has asked us for certain medical supplies, and we're able to be responsive to that by sending our health and human services disaster medical assistance teams down and placing them in places that are identified by the health ministry.

In other places, the government has really, you know, suffered greatly themselves because of the actual devastation, and that kind of responsiveness to their needs will be more difficult.

HUME: General Keen, a question for you, sir. How serious is the security problem? Are you confronting criminals, looters? I understand the jails were affected and criminals were running loose. How serious a security challenge are you facing, sir?

KEEN: Well, yesterday when our paratroopers went out to deliver supplies, they didn't encounter any security issues or problems. In fact, they had very positive encounters. They had interpreters with them. They were interacting with the populace, and they were able to deliver those supplies in a very orderly fashion.

We did have an incident with one helicopter that couldn't land and had to release its supplies.

But there are increasing incidents of violence. We are looking at that very closely. We do need, obviously, a safe and secure environment to continue and do the best we can with the humanitarian assistance.

We're working very closely with the United Nations, who's been here, obviously, for a long time and been doing the security and stability mission.

HUME: General, whose job is it — who has the authority down there to carry out law enforcement and provide security? Does the United States forces who are there — I'm sure they have — they can defend themselves, but what about more generally? Who's providing security down there?

KEEN: Well, the United Nation forces have a mission to provide security and stability within the construct of what they are doing here, and they are doing that. But the police have been devastated as well. We've seen increase in presence of the police on the street, but it's limited.

So we do have to secure ourselves, as you said, but we also have to address how we are able to continue our humanitarian assistance mission in a safe and secure environment, so we're going to have to work, and we are working, alongside the United States and...

HUME: Got it.

KEEN: ... the United Nations and the government of Haiti to continue this security challenge that we face.

HUME: General Keen, thank you very much, sir, for taking this time.

Dr. Shah, thank you as well. Thanks for coming in.

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