(No. 39 – January 23, 2010 – 2 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 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 23, 2010:
"Canada's relief effort in Haiti continues to progress. Canadian Forces Search and Rescue technicians have been working non-stop for 12 days.
"They have worked closely with international search and rescue teams in efforts to search for survivors and recover the remains of those who did not survive.
"They have worked on key sites, such as the Montana Hotel as well as sites immediately around the hotel. Other Canadian staff—consular and police—are working in support of the effort at the Montana.
"Our government is doing everything in its power to assist Canadians affected by this tragic disaster.
"As you know, this morning the Government of Haiti has declared the search and rescue phase over. The search and rescue efforts were coordinated by the United Nations.
"To date, there were 132 rescues by teams, including Canadian ones. We are also informed that in case there is the slightest sign of life, they will continue to act swiftly.
"The days ahead will not be easy for Canadians who are without news of their loved ones. Our thoughts are with all those families and friends affected by this unprecedented disaster.
"It saddens me to confirm that the number of Canadian fatalities has reached 17 so far. We offer our condolences and prayers to the families and friends of the deceased. Sadly, we expect the number of confirmed fatalities to increase.
"The number of Canadians unaccounted for in the affected areas has decreased further to 236. The number of Canadians located is now at 1,939.
"Currently, there are approximately 190 people awaiting evacuation in the Embassy compound. We hope to evacuate them on a plane for Canada soon.
"Our emergency operation centre has now responded to 31,000 calls and continues to focus on outstanding cases.
"So far, 1,891 Canadians have been evacuated onboard 21 CF flights, including two arriving this morning in Montreal—and an additional 265 on three commercial flights, for a total of 2,156.
"Reports coming from our personnel on the ground in Haiti indicate that critical roads are being opened to the movement and distribution of assistance, but congestion remains a major issue.
"Canada has made a solid commitment to assist not just with immediate needs, but also with recovery and reconstruction in the longer term.
"This commitment is reflected in our convening of the Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti in Montreal this Monday.
"We will continue to carefully examine how Canada can best contribute to reconstruction efforts once those needs have been clarified.
"Canada urges members of the international community to focus on coordination, sequencing, harmonization and synchronization with Haiti, the UN and the rest of the international community.
"In conclusion, I would like to extend our thanks to all Canadians who have so generously donated. The concert broadcast last evening truly demonstrates the strong solidarity of Canadians with the people of Haiti. So thank you."
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:
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada