(No. 44 - January 27, 2010 - 12:30 p.m. ET) 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 the National Press Theatre at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 27, 2010:
“Canadian contributions to international relief efforts in Haiti continue to make positive inroads. Our priorities in the short term remain ensuring the safety and well being of Canadians who are in Haiti and supporting ongoing international efforts to provide emergency humanitarian aid to the Haitian population.
“Canadian Embassy staff in Haiti are working hard to find and identify all the children that have been cleared for adoption to Canada by the Government of Haiti and by provincial adoption authorities. A second flight carrying 52 children will arrive in Canada later today. These children are the second group to arrive in Canada whose adoptions are at the final stages of approval and have been cleared by the Haitian government.
“The flight will arrive at the Canada Reception Centre at Hangar 11 at Ottawa International Airport at approximately 1 p.m. ET. These children will be accompanied by airline staff, Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials and a medical team.
“It deeply saddens me, however, to report that the number of Canadian fatalities has now reached 21. In addition, 147 Canadians remain unaccounted for. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the deceased, and with those who await news of loved ones. We know this is not an easy time for them. This continues to be a priority for officials on the ground in Haiti and here in Ottawa.
“The needs in Haiti continue to be great. Food, water, emergency medical assistance and shelter have all been identified by the Government of Haiti as key priorities. My colleague, the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, will speak to how her officials are working to help meet those needs.
“At present, close to 1,400 Canadian Forces personnel are in Haiti participating as part of Operation Hestia. The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, can provide you with greater detail as to the ongoing work of the Canadian Forces in Haiti.
“We have also deployed DFAIT and CIDA staff, who are working side-by-side with our Canadian Forces personnel in Jacmel, Léogâne and Port-au-Prince. Their role is to assist in reaching out to humanitarian partners to identify gaps, needs and opportunities, and to reinforce the role of the Government of Haiti at the local level. They are helping to ensure effective coordination with the United Nations, the Government of Haiti, NGOs and other governments.
“Ensuring effective coordination among all humanitarian actors on the ground will continue to be important to ensure against duplication or overlap in our respective efforts. To that end, we have pressed the United Nations to enhance its coordination capacity in both Jacmel and Léogâne.
“We have received positive indications that additional United Nations staff have been deployed to both communities to strengthen coordination efforts on the ground.
“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Haiti over the long term. Indeed, in addition to our ongoing efforts to meet immediate humanitarian needs, officials have turned their attention to clarifying priority needs and sequencing longer-term reconstruction efforts.
“As you know, this was discussed at Monday’s Ministerial Preparatory Conference in Montreal. This conference was a critical first step in establishing a road map for recovery. At the conference, we agreed on an action plan based on key principles—namely respect for Haitian sovereignty, coordination, sustainability and accountability. We also agreed on the convening of a large-scale conference in New York in March.
“As Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper noted, this is an important first step as part of a 10-year time frame for international reconstruction efforts in support of the Government and people of Haiti.
“We will continue to work with the Government of Haiti, the UN, other donors and partners to determine how Canada can best contribute to reconstruction efforts once those needs have been clearly identified.”
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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