Ministerial Statement on Haiti: Saturday, January 16, 11 a.m.

(No. 20 – January 16, 2010 – 3:50 p.m. ET) 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 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 16, 2010:

"It is with great sadness that I confirm that at this point there are six Canadian fatalities to date in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.

"I offer my deepest sympathies to all, and to the Siemienski and Rivard families and their friends.

"According to the latest consular figures, the number of Canadians unaccounted for in the affected area has dropped to 1,362.

"There were about 200 Canadians taking refuge at our Embassy in Port-au-Prince yesterday. Another aircraft departed Port-au-Prince and is due to arrive in Montreal today with 196 passengers onboard.

"There are approximately 50 Canadians in the Embassy compound this morning. I am pleased to confirm that we have accounted for all 51 locally engaged Embassy staff.

"I am also pleased to report that the number of individuals now located has risen to 781.

"Some 460 Canadians have been evacuated since yesterday onboard four Canadian Forces flights. To date, our Emergency Operations Centre has received approximately 21,000 calls. The Centre continues its efforts to resolve cases of individuals who are unaccounted for.

"Our government is providing assistance in many forms at the moment in Haiti, including support for search and rescue, the provision of basic needs, and security.

"Canadians working for the United Nations, the Red Cross movement and non-governmental organizations are also playing a key role in responding to the earthquake.

"We are starting to shift from urgent search and rescue to humanitarian response and stabilization efforts.

"Canada is working closely with the UN-led peacekeeping mission—the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH—which is playing a key coordination role.

"MINUSTAH comprises personnel from some 50 countries and incorporates military and police peacekeepers, including a substantial number of Canadian civilian police.

"It works alongside the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the other UN agencies that are playing a key role now in humanitarian efforts. Canada stands ready to support the UN in Haiti with a proven whole-of-government approach that combines civilian and military resources and personnel.

"As has been noted, a Canadian operational headquarters will be established by the Canadian Forces and will reflect our whole-of-government efforts in its personnel and operations.

"We will send officials from my department and CIDA to work alongside and advise the military commanders on the ground and ensure that all efforts are coordinated under the leadership of Canada's Ambassador, Gilles Rivard.

"This morning I spoke to the Haitian Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, who was in Ottawa just last month, and shared our profound sadness. I also reiterated our steadfast commitment to Haiti."

For more information, including advice on how to help those affected by the disaster, please visit Canada's response to the earthquake in Haiti.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada