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January 22, 2010

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4 more Chinese peacekeepers headed for Haiti

CHINA will send four more peacekeepers to Haiti after laying to rest eight of their colleagues killed in last week's devastating earthquake, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

The officers will be among 3,500 additional international military and police peacekeepers who will join the 8,100-strong contingent already in Haiti, which now includes about 125 Chinese police officers.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said more Chinese peacekeepers could be dispatched in the future, depending on how the harrowing situation develops. An estimated 2 million Haitians are homeless amid concerns over looting and crime.

"Whether we will send more peacekeepers will be decided by the request of the United Nations and the actual situation in Haiti," Ma said.

Ma's comments followed Wednesday's state funeral for the eight peacekeepers attended by President Hu Jintao and other top leaders. The eight, including four who were visiting for consultations, were killed in the collapse of the UN's five-story headquarters building when the magnitude-7.0 quake struck on January 12.

Ma said China would consider more assistance to quake-hit Haiti and hoped the UN could coordinate post-quake reconstruction.

"We will continue to make every effort to participate in disaster relief and reconstruction," Ma said.

China has already deployed a 60-member rescue team to Haiti and pledged US$4.2 million in earthquake aid. The Red Cross Society of China donated US$1 million in emergency aid.

The death toll is estimated at 200,000, with 250,000 people in need of urgent aid.

Ma said the reconstruction would be arduous and the UN should parlay its advantage by guiding and coordinating aid efforts from all sides.

"China supports the United Nations playing its due role in time to ensure an early launch of reconstruction," said Ma.


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