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Haiti confronts rising lawlessness after earthquake

[JURIST] Local police struggled to maintain law and order in Haiti while awaiting the deployment of more US troops on Monday, as looting and vigilantism rose among increasingly desperate and frustrated survivors of the earthquake that struck the country last week. The troops arriving Monday are part of a 5,700-strong US contingent expected to arrive [Telegraph report] by the end of the week to assist the 3,000 police and international peacekeepers deployed to secure the airport, port, and main buildings. Incidents of looting and violence have been on the rise [NYT report], and the reported lynching of one suspected looter along with shootings Sunday have led to an increase in the number of UN peacekeepers patrolling the streets. The country's legal system and government are largely non-operational [France 24 report] in the wake of the disaster. More than 100 US troops landed [New York Post report] in Haiti on Friday, distributing supplies to survivors. The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti [official website] has said that up to 50% of buildings [statement, PDF] have been destroyed or damaged, including the presidential palace, the UN Mission headquarters, and the main prison, allowing nearly 4,000 inmates to escape [JURIST report].

On January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake [USGS backgrounder] caused massive damage to property and infrastructure in Haiti. Haitian government officials estimate [Al Jazeera report] the death toll to be as high as 100,000 to 200,000. More than 70,000 bodies have been buried since the earthquake hit. Haitian nationals already present in the US on January 12 have been granted Temporary Protected Status [JURIST report] and will be allowed to continue living and working in the US for the next 18 months regardless of their immigration status.

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