U.S. troops begin to pull out of Haiti as Senate relieves debt

U.S. troops are beginning a drawdown in ranks from Haiti after helping deliver nearly two months of aid to thousands of displaced, injured, and orphaned islanders affected by the massive January earthquake.

The move has caused some to worry that American interest in the economically and physically torn country is waning, but it comes as the Senate voted late last week to relieve Haiti of its debt while attempting to prevent it from racking up future debt by mandating that future aid to the island be given as grants and not loans.

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The Inter-American Development Bank has projected that reconstruction and recovery efforts in Haiti could cost as much as $14 billion.

About 10,000 peacekeeping troops with the United Nations are expected to lead the remaining recovery and safety efforts. It took the international body longer than expected to respond to the disaster, in-part because its Haitian headquarters was badly hit and many of the U.N. workers and their families in the country were killed.

In the immediate days following the quake, the U.S. sent two aircraft carriers full of troops to Haiti, bringing the total expected number of military personnel assisting in Haiti to more than 16,000.

The rush in U.S. military aid brought a slew of criticism from foreign leaders who said that America should not have played such a leading role in a country where the U.S. has a history of military occupations and intervening in the country’s domestic political affairs at various times throughout the 20th century, when it behooved American foreign policy.

The recently passed Senate measure also pushes the White House to create an international fund for Haiti, which will focus on investing in the country’s infrastructure.

Last month the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan revealed that they would be canceling nearly $2 billion of Haiti’s bilateral debt.