Ministerial Statement on Haiti: Monday, January 18, 8:30 a.m.

(No. 29 - January 18, 2010 - 2:45 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 8:30 a.m. on Monday, January 18, 2010:

"Canadians are being evacuated, and supplies are being sent to those who need it most. But the situation remains very fragile, and we still face a number of challenges.

"According to the latest consular figures, the number of Canadian fatalities has now reached 11. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and friends of those affected.

"The number of Canadians unaccounted for in the affected area now stands at 859, which is a reduction from yesterday's number of 1,115.

"The number of Canadians located has risen to 1,433, up from 1,122 yesterday. We continue to do everything we can to locate all Canadians so they can rejoin their families and friends here in Canada.

"We have successfully rescued 17 students from a location outside Port-au-Prince, using air and land equipment. Minister Peter MacKay [Minister of National Defence] will speak about this in a moment.

"Supplies have made it to our embassy in Port-au-Prince, and Canadians continue to arrive at the compound, where 20 Canadians are now taking refuge, down from 30 yesterday.

"There have now been 10 flights back to Canada, and another flight with some 40 people on board is due to arrive this morning in Montreal. Those 11 flights carried 947 evacuees since the beginning of the crisis; yesterday's number was 593.

"To date, our Emergency Operations Centre has received more than 24,000 calls, up from 22,600 yesterday.

"The food situation has improved. The United Nations, through the World Food Programme, is serving 60,000 hot meals per day, up from 29,000 meals a day.

"These are the small successes that we've been seeing, and we can only imagine the tremendous relief they bring to those in need.

"Although the concern over an increase in civilian violence is shared by several countries involved, it will be resolved by our capacity to deliver aid and our capacity to stabilize Haiti.

"Latest international efforts include food, water and shelter, as well as fixing the airport, the port—for the short and medium term—and the communications network, to ensure a humanitarian corridor to facilitate distribution.

"At yesterday's Group of Friends call, we all agreed on strengthening the commitment taken by the international community and on coordinating aid and support for Haiti following the recent earthquake.

"The call also triggered a discussion on the medium- and long-term needs of Haiti and strengthened the solidarity we all have with Haitians themselves.

"The issue of security was identified as one of the key challenges; it is necessary to significantly supplement police forces in Haiti until the Haitian National Police force can be re-established.

"We are working with MINUSTAH on this front.

"Our government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has been fully engaged in Haiti, is engaged today, and will remain engaged in the future.

"I am also pleased to announce that Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and the Friends of Haiti ministers have accepted Canada's invitation to convene a meeting of foreign ministers and key multilateral players on January 25 in Montreal.

"This meeting will allow us to begin the planning process for a major conference on the reconstruction of Haiti.

"The Montreal meeting, which I will chair, will provide an opportunity to reassess the situation in Haiti, and ensure that the United Nations can focus international efforts to help the Haitian people meet the current challenges and prepare for long-term stabilization and reconstruction.

"I also spoke yesterday to the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, to debrief her on the Group of Friends call.

"We agreed on the need to follow the leadership of the Government of Haiti, and the need to strengthen its ability to govern by improving communications, transport and security. We also discussed the need to recommend increasing troop levels and the police component on the ground.

"We will continue to work closely with the Government of Haiti, the United Nations and other missions toward an effective response to this disaster.

"Our number one priority remains to assist those in need."

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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