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Advance group of PKO heads to Haiti following parliamentary approval

All Headlines 14:39 February 09, 2010

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean peacekeeping unit was set to leave for Haiti this week following the parliamentary approval of a plan to support reconstruction efforts in the quake-hit nation, defense officials said Tuesday.

The South Korean National Assembly approved earlier Tuesday the plan to send 240 peacekeepers to Leogane, about 40 kilometers west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, joining international efforts to aid the Caribbean state. Haiti was hit by a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12 that reportedly leveled a third of its buildings and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

An advance unit of 30 troops, mostly military engineers, will leave for Haiti Wednesday along with a 1,200-ton freighter carrying equipment and supplies, Seoul's defense ministry said.

"The unit is likely to arrive in the country around March 12," said Yoon Won-sik, head of the ministry's public relations bureau. The remaining troops are likely to leave the country Feb. 27, he added.

Under the peacekeeper dispatch plan, approved by all 173 attending legislators in the parliament Tuesday, the 240 troops including 120 military engineers and 22 medics will be stationed in Haiti until Dec. 31 this year.

The expenses, estimated at 28.7 billion won, or about US$25 million, will be paid first by the South Korean government and later partially covered by the United Nations.

South Korea has pledged over $16 million worth of relief in the form of both government and civilian assistance to Haiti.


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