Ministerial Statement on Haiti: Sunday, January 17, 8:30 a.m.

(No. 23 - January 17, 2010 – 1:10 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 the National Press Theatre at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 17, 2010:

"Canada continues to work tirelessly with the Haitian government as well as the United Nations toward a coordinated and effective response to this disaster and I am encouraged that gradual progress—while slow—is being made. 

"According to the latest consular figures, the number of fatalities has now reached eight. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families as well as the friends of those affected. 

"Yesterday, the United Nations confirmed the death of His Excellency Hedi Annabi, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, who was lost in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010.

"On behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish to offer my most sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Annabi.

"Moreover, we mourn the death of the principal Deputy Special Representative, Luiz Carlos da Costa, and of the peacekeepers killed in the collapse of the headquarters of MINUSTAH. Canada remains steadfast in its support of this mission, which is crucial to the stabilization and reconstruction of Haiti.

"The number of Canadians unaccounted for in the affected area now stands at 1,115, which is a reduction from yesterday's number of 1,362.

"This means the number of Canadians located has risen to 1,122. We continue to do our utmost to ensure that we locate all Canadians, and that these Canadians are transported safely home to Canada.

"A total of 30 Canadians continue to take refuge at our Embassy, and others are being assisted elsewhere in Haiti.

"There have now been six flights back to Canada completed, for a total of 593 evacuees since the beginning.

"Another flight carrying 133 passengers departed Port-au-Prince last night and arrived earlier this morning; another one is expected later today.

"To date, our Emergency Operations Centre has received more than 22,600 calls.

"Food aid is being distributed. The United Nations, through the World Food Programme, is serving 29,000 hot meals per day. This is expected to ramp up and be increased to roughly 100,000 meals in a very short period.

"Mobile networks are being restored. 

"We continue to move experts and Canadian humanitarian supplies into Haiti, and to support the work of international as well as non-governmental organizations responding to people's urgent needs.

"As we move forward and toward better operations at the airport, effective emergency response efforts are getting easier. 

"Today, I will be hosting a conference call with my counterparts from the foreign ministers of the Group of the Friends of Haiti.

"The conference call was proposed by Canada to help us map out our collective efforts to ensure a high degree of coordination in the immediate humanitarian response, and to begin to consider the medium- as well as long-term reconstruction efforts.

"My colleague Peter Kent, the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), will be travelling to the Dominican Republic on Monday to take part in a regional leaders meeting convened by the Dominican Republic, a country that has demonstrated regional leadership in coordinating our efforts.

"All international assistance should be coordinated through the UN system and support the priorities set by the Government of Haiti.

"Finally, I would like to commend Ambassador Rivard and the entire Canadian Embassy team. They are doing a remarkable job in extremely difficult conditions at our mission in Port-au-Prince. 

"On the ground, finally, Canada continues to work in cooperation with the Government of Haiti, the United Nations and other missions toward an effective response to this disaster.

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

- 30 -

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874