Ministerial Statement on Haiti: Sunday, January 24, 10 a.m.

(No. 41 – January 24, 2010 – 1:15 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 Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada headquarters at 10 a.m. on Sunday, January 24, 2010:

"Since the Government of Haiti officially declared that the search and rescue phase was over yesterday, our focus now is on the repatriation of the remains of Canadian victims of the earthquake.

"We are working as quickly as possible through a number of complex logistical issues, including those related to identification and proper documentation of individuals.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with the families and friends of the deceased.

"According to the latest consular figures, the number of Canadian fatalities has now reached 19. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those affected. My deepest condolences are with the family of [former MP Serge] Marcil.

"A total of 213 Canadians are unaccounted for in the affected area, and 1,948 Canadians have been located.

"As of today, the DFAIT operations centre has dealt with 31,900 calls, 2,327 individuals have thus far been evacuated, and 60 are currently awaiting evacuation.

"As you know, this morning 24 orphaned Haitian children arrived in Canada to their adoptive families.

"Yesterday, Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper announced that Canada will continue to match Canadians' donations dollar for dollar.

"In Haiti, Canadian humanitarian relief efforts continue apace in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, Léogâne and other affected areas. 

"Tomorrow I will host the Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti in Montreal. In less than two weeks following the devastating earthquake that ravaged Haiti, Canada has gathered countries and organizations with a deep and long-standing connection to the people of Haiti.

"You may already have the list of participants at this conference.

"I am very honoured that Prime Minister [Jean-Max] Bellerive of Haiti will meet with us today and tomorrow, and that so many important partners of Haiti have agreed to participate at this event.

"Our presence in Montreal tomorrow will allow us to express our profound sympathies to the Haitian people in recognition of the tremendous losses of lives, and begin the process of healing.

"This meeting—convened on short notice in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy—will clearly and concretely demonstrate our commitment to Haiti's long-term reconstruction.

"This conference is an initial—albeit critical—step on the long road to recovery. This is not a pledging conference. Proceeding along those lines while emergency relief remains the top priority would be premature.

"What we need moving forward is a collective plan that meets the aspirations of the Haitian people, and that is based on a sound assessment of needs and priorities. As the Prime Minister has said, we want to get it right.

"Together with the Government of Haiti, we need to roll up our sleeves and begin to lay the groundwork for the enormous task ahead. My objectives for this meeting are simple but necessary.

"We need to arrive at a common understanding and commitment on certain basic principles of responsibility, accountability and long-term engagement.

"We need to identify with the Haitian government key priorities in order to define a roadmap for the tasks ahead.

"This will lay the foundation for a successful international conference on Haitian reconstruction in the months ahead. 

"Tomorrow we will also hear from non-governmental organizations engaged in the field. They will inform the ministers and representatives of their views regarding the situation on the ground, as well as their perspectives with regard to the long-term reconstruction needs in Haiti. 

"I look forward to a successful outcome of the Montreal meeting. I trust that it will provide a clear sense of the next steps ahead. Restoring the lives and livelihoods of the Haitian people, and, as put by Prime Minister Bellerive, building a New Haiti, will be foremost on our minds. 

"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:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada