Europe is to send special police to Haiti to help with the relief operations. The collective contribution will amount to some 350 gendarmes.
The contingent will be built around the European Gendarmerie Force, which has six member countries – France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Romania.
Miguel Ángel Moratinos, the Foreign Minister for Spain, currently holding the European Union’s rotating presidency, said: “Together we’ll represent the EU in guaranteeing security and above all in guaranteeing the arrival of humanitarian aid the Haitians need.”
At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Britain opposed the gendarme idea, arguing that the United States — with its thousand of troops in Haiti — had more than enough personnel to provide for security needs in the fallout of the quake. The biggest contributors will be France and Italy.
The European gendarmes will reinforce the Brazilian-led United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. It has been active there since 2004, attempting to impose control over armed gangs. A spokesman said security after the earthquake was largely “under control”.