Ministerial Statement on Haiti: Tuesday, January 19, 8:30 a.m.

(No. 32 - January 19, 2010 - 2:15 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 Tuesday, January 19, 2010:

"The situation remains difficult in Haiti, with logistical and security challenges.

"Additional Canadians are expected to arrive at the compound, where 55 Canadians are now taking refuge.

"According to the latest consular figures, I can confirm, with great sadness, 12 fatalities. Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones.

"The number of Canadians unaccounted for in the affected areas continues to decrease: down to 699 from 859.

"The number of Canadians located has risen to 1,566, up from 1,433 yesterday. We continue to use all available means to locate Canadians so they can be reunited with their loved ones back home.

"There have now been 13 flights back to Canada, including one that arrived just this morning in Montreal, returning a total of 1,206 evacuees since the beginning of the crisis; yesterday's number was 947.

"To date, our Emergency Operations Centre has received more than 26,500 calls; there were 24,000 yesterday.

"I'm happy to report that the United Nations, through the World Food Programme, has reached its objective and is now serving well over 200,000 people on a daily basis.

"We are also making progress on our international diplomatic efforts.

"Next Monday, January 25, I will chair an important preparatory meeting of foreign ministers and key multilateral players in Montreal, in the lead-up to a leaders conference on the reconstruction of Haiti. Montreal has one of the biggest concentrations of Haitian diaspora.

"This conference is crucial, because the role of the foreign ministers is often to look ahead of the short-term operations that are ongoing.

"Immediate needs are being addressed, such as food, water, shelter, infrastructure, port, airport and communications. As Haiti's Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said, we need to move beyond reconstruction to build a new Haiti. We heard his message, we are loyal neighbours and partners of the Haitian people, and this is what we're focused on.

"The meeting will serve to establish a clear and common vision amongst the key partners involved in relief efforts in Haiti.

"With a robust agenda to guide us, the conference will address coordinating priorities, governance capacity-building needs, as identified by the Government of Haiti, and set the parameters for any future leader's reconstruction conference.

"Prime Minister Bellerive fully supports this conference, as do representatives of key countries involved in Haiti, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Brazil's Minister of External Relations Celso Amorim and France's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Bernard Kouchner.

"We expect other countries to confirm their attendance in the days ahead; we have been receiving numerous calls of interests from all over the world.

"That will certainly include France, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina and Costa Rica, as well as the European Union, the Organization of American States, the United Nations, some of Haiti's immediate regional neighbours and development banks.

"Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), was also in the Dominican Republic representing Canada at the regional CARICOM conference on Haiti yesterday, at which key players discussed short-, medium- and long-term assistance efforts.

"Yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke with Haiti's President René Préval. Prime Minister Harper reiterated his deep support and the unwavering commitment of the Canadian government and the Canadian people for Haiti.

"He also reiterated Canada's pledge to stand firmly by the people of Haiti during this time of need.

"Finally, the Government of Haiti and the United Nations are constantly re-evaluating and assessing priorities on the ground. We stand ready to further contribute police and security forces as soon as MINUSTAH [the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti] signals that conditions allow.

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

"Again, I would like to underline the outstanding work of our staff on the ground, and in our headquarters here in Ottawa, who are working tirelessly around the clock. 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