(No. 17 - January 14, 2010 - 6:00 p.m. EST) The following is an edited transcript of a statement made to media by the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), on the situation in Haiti. The statement was made at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada headquarters at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 14, 2010:
“Over the past year and half, as Minister of State for the Americas, I have developed close relations with folks across countries of the region—our neighbours and our friends. I, too, offer my heart-felt condolences to the people of Haiti and to those in the Haitian community here in Canada as they struggle to meet the immense challenges before them.
“The Organization of American States (OAS) is the primary intergovernmental body of our hemisphere. Given Canada’s strong leadership role, I have been working closely with Graeme Clarke, Canada’s Ambassador at the OAS, and with Secretary General José Miguel Insulza to ensure effective coordination and delivery of disaster assistance and humanitarian relief.
“Interamerican agencies such as the Pan American Development Foundation, which has great experience in Haiti, will play an important role in cooperating with civilian authorities to provide immediate as well as long-term assistance. The OAS held several meetings yesterday (Wednesday). Member states both large and small pledged a range of much-needed emergency supplies, technology and search and rescue resources.
“Most international institutions have seen their buildings severely damaged, and many affected countries have thanked Canada—one of only two countries whose embassies remain operational—even if under somewhat limited circumstances to provide food, water and electricity to their staffs on the ground.
“Today in New York, Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, John McNee, will attend a special meeting of the Friends of Haiti. Also attending will be former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who, as you know, is the UN Special Envoy for Haiti. These 16 member countries, the friends, have major existing development commitments to this impoverished country. This meeting will present an opportunity for all of the friends, the 16 countries, to discuss their support and to ensure that aid is provided in an efficient and coordinated manner with partners such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, and of course throughout the entire UN system.
“Finally, as the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, mentioned, and as you are aware, the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, announced that Canada will match Canadian donations to registered organizations to help people affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Donations made by individual Canadians to eligible charitable organizations over the period January 12 to February 12 will be matched by the Government of Canada through allocation of the CIDA Managed Earthquake Relief Fund. This fund will support Canadian and international humanitarian and development organizations with significant in-country capacity to deliver humanitarian, search and recovery, and reconstruction assistance in Haiti.
“Again, we ask that folks visit the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website for up-to-date information, or call the general information number at 1-800-387-3124. Thank you.”
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For further information, media representatives may contact:
Senior Special Assistant (Communications)
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)
Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada