The United Nations on Tuesday took over responsibility for security in Haiti from an international stabilization force.
But only 42 out of a designated force of 8,000 army and police from 30 countries had arrived early that day, designated as the official handover date to the UN peacekeeping force.
The soldiers are part of a Brazilian contingent of 1,200 troops headed by Gen. Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, who will also command the UN force.
Some of the 450 Canadian troops who arrived in February as part of an ad hoc international stabilization force of 3,600 troops will join the UN force for as long as six months.
Some French and Chilean troops will also remain, but most of the 1,900 U.S. troops are scheduled to leave by the end of June.
The handover comes as the country continues to struggle with the aftermath of one of the worst floods in recent history.
Flash floods on the island last week caused by prolonged torrential rain killed about 1,400 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Another 1,500 are missing, feared dead in Haiti alone.
- FROM MAY 30, 2004: Food, supplies shipped to Haiti aid effort
- FROM FEB. 29, 2004: Canada to join international force in Haiti
But the mission is only for six months, with no guarantees it will be extended.
It is unclear whether all the troops promised would actually arrive, and only a fraction of the $35 million US in requested aid has materialized.
Brazil, Chile and Argentina have pledged a combined 2,500 troops. Other countries, including Nepal and Rwanda, have promised 750 troops each.