Yep! I knew that this was the reason that we have sent so many military and civil resources to this place. I got to thinking about the DART response to the tsunami of 2005 (or Not?) and comparing it to Haiti and had to ask: "Hmmm???"
Canadian aid efforts focus on Haitian town linked to GG
By Juliet O'Neill, Canwest News Service January 18, 2010 10:57 AM
OTTAWA — Canadian military forces are going to base a big part of their Haitian earthquake relief operations in Jacmel, a southern port city where Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean spent her summers as a little girl.
The plan was outlined Monday by Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, commander of Canadian Forces in Haiti, and Canadian ambassador Gilles Rivard in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.
"Jacmel is cut from the world," Rivard said.
Laroche said Canada's DART — disaster assistance relief team — was headed to Jacmel and the navy vessel HMCS HALIFAX will be based offshore the city about 40 kilometres south of Port-au-Prince.
"They can do a lot for the people there," Laroche told reporters, listing medical support, water purification and engineering capacity among the assistance.
He said the government of Haiti requested Canada focus on Jacmel, Haiti's fourth-largest city and its cultural capital. The population is about 40,000. Jacmel has been described as the birthplace of the Governor General's parents.
Jean was born in Port-au-Prince, but her mother was born in Jacmel and the Governor General spent many weekends and summers there as a girl.
"The hospital was half destroyed and even prior to the earthquake the hospital was in a deplorable situation," Rivard said. "You can just imagine what it's like now."
When Laroche and Rivard and other Canadians went to Jacmel two days earlier, the ambassador said they were the first authorities to come from Port-au-Prince to inquire.
"Jacmel and its inhabitants are today isolated from the rest of the world and from humanitarian assistance, which continues to flow in the Haitian capital city," the French relief organization ACTED reported Monday.
ACTED said thousands of people who lost their homes are cramped in two camps in the area, at least 145 people are dead and 380 wounded. ACTED had built eight emergency latrines for 1,600 people. Media reports said some earthquake victims in the city who lost limbs are suffering gangrene as they have no medical help. CBC said 300 students were believed to be in the rubble of a crushed school there.
ACTED said the normal 2 1/2-hour trip south from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel takes more than seven hours on an obstructed road.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay said earlier he expected to sign off Monday on Laroche's proposal to base some operations in Jacmel.
He said there are drawbacks, because the damaged and small airport runway can take C-130 Hercules transport airport if it is fixed, but it cannot take the C-17s, which the Canadian Forces are using to ferry personnel, equipment and supplies.
The port is also unusable, but MacKay said the personnel and supplies aboard the two navy vessels arriving can be delivered to shore by smaller boats and dinghies and with a Sea King helicopter.
"My understanding at this point is the airport runway itself — there's very little infrastructure other than this runway — is sufficient for the landing of a C-130 Hercules," MacKay said.
"It would not accommodate the C-17, the large aircraft, and it will also require some work, some additional improvements in order for it to be optimized.
"The port itself, it's not that it's unusable, but it is certainly not in a condition right now that would allow for a ship the size of a Canadian Forces frigate or destroyer to pull along side. So we will be ferrying personnel and equipment ship to shore and using the Sea King helicopter."
Laroche said HMCS ATHABASKAN, which is carrying the Sea King, will be based off Port-au-Prince. The Halifax and Athabaskan are due to arrive Tuesday.
"These ships are going to arrive very soon and both personnel, the equipment aboard and the supplies will be brought to bear almost immediately," MacKay said.
"Given the size of the need, upon arrival this is like a sponge, absorbing everything that we have almost immediately."
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said at a press conference Monday morning that the number of Canadians evacuated from Haiti has now reached 947, up from 593 on Sunday. He added that 850 Canadians remain missing. Eleven Canadians have been confirmed dead.
Cannon also confirmed that Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive will be in Montreal on Jan. 25 to meet with Canadian and other international officials about discussing the long-term goals for rebuilding the island nation.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
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