(No. 13 – January 13, 2010 – 5:45 p.m. EST) The following is an edited transcript of a statement made to media by the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on the situation in Haiti. The statement was made at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada headquarters at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 13, 2010:
"On behalf of the Canadian people, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and our government, I offer heartfelt condolences to the people of Haiti. Haiti is a priority for this government, and Canada is committed to supporting the Haitian people in these devastating times.
"We understand the situation is very chaotic and damage is extensive. We feel for all Haitian people, Canadians in Haiti and Canadians of Haitian descent and their families here in Canada. Our government will continue to stand by all of you.
"I spoke to Canada's Ambassador to Haiti, Gilles Rivard, again this morning. The Embassy building has been evacuated as a precautionary measure. Canadian citizens continue to take refuge in the Embassy compound. Tents, food, water and medical assistance are available there.
"The first elements of Canada's emergency assistance to Haiti are being deployed this morning. The DART [Disaster Assistance Response Team] reconnaissance team will further assess the needs on the ground and provide additional recommendations on the Government of Canada's response options.
"This team will precede the deployment of a larger DART force, possibly including a C-17 transport aircraft with medical equipment, and two search-and-rescue Griffon helicopters. More equipment will be deployed based on needs assessment.
"An interdepartmental strategic support team is also en route to Haiti to conduct a humanitarian needs assessment and identify actions that Canada can take to support the relief and recovery efforts.
"We continue to collect information as Canadians come to the Embassy and contact us, and are helping to facilitate calls home to reassure families.
"We have no reports of Canadian casualties. At this point, we can report one Canadian with minor injuries. There are 82 Canadian police officers, 7 Corrections Canada officers and 5 Canadian Forces personnel who are deployed with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. We are currently working to account for all of them.
"We now have received over 750 calls at our Emergency Operations Centre, and officials continue to assist Canadians, 24-7.
"We know that 707 Canadians are registered with our Registration of Canadians Abroad system, but it is estimated that 6,000 Canadians reside in the country.
"I spoke to Quebec Premier Jean Charest yesterday evening. Premier Charest has offered to assist, and I briefed him on the situation.
"Canadians wishing to help those affected by this disaster should consult the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website for advice on how best to help. The fastest and most efficient way to get help to people in need is to donate money—not clothing or food—to experienced humanitarian organizations.
"I am working closely with my colleagues, the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, and the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, to further assist Haiti. Minister Oda will update media on additional aid assistance later today.
"The interdepartmental team here in Ottawa is holding another working meeting this morning and we will continue to provide further information as it becomes available."
For more information, including advice on how to help those affected by the disaster, please visit Earthquake in Haiti.
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For further information, media representatives may contact:
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada