Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Canadian Recon Group Heading For Haiti To Assess Whether Disaster Team Needed

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - A Canadian reconnaissance group is en route to Haiti to determine whether the military's Disaster Assistance Response Team can play a role in relief efforts after a series of tropical storms lashed the island.

The storms - four in a month - produced major flooding which killed hundreds and left tens of thousands in need of food and shelter.

The United Nations appealed for nearly $108 million Wednesday for an estimated 800,000 people in Haiti in need of humanitarian aid.

It said the number of people who need help finding shelter, clean water and food represents about 10 per cent of the desperately poor Caribbean nation's population.

The money - including $48 million for food, shelter and other items and $11 million for agriculture - is to be used by several UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, Haiti's government and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The DART, established in 1996, consists of about 200 soldiers, including medical personnel and engineers.

It can provide basic medical care, safe drinking water and reliable communications in a disaster area.

The team includes a medical team of about 40 people capable of running a clinic handling 200 to 250 outpatients.

The engineer team can produce drinking water either bagged or in bulk and also has a construction and heavy-equipment capability which can build roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

There are also logistics experts, communications specialists and a small security detachment.

The team has responded to a number of natural disasters since its creation, including a 1998 hurricane in Honduras, the 1999 Turkish earthquake and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Hurricane Ike is the latest storm to afflict Haiti, after it was struck within one week by Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna. The country was already struggling with Hurricane Fay's heavy rains in August.

Haiti's government has all but given up trying to update the death toll as the floodwaters recede and more bodies surface.

Even before the storms hit, food prices in Haiti had soared by 40 per cent since the start of the year and slightly more than half its inhabitants was living on less than $1 a day.

John Holmes, the UN's humanitarian chief, said the emergency and recovery aid being sought is especially crucial since "the longer-term economic impact is also bound to be grave."

(With files from The Associated Press)

Source: Ca.News.Yahoo.Com

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