Monday, February 22, 2010

Canada Begins Military Withdrawal From Haiti

A Canadian soldier chats with young boys during a rural area patrol in Leogane near Port-au-Prince, Saturday January 30th 2010. A 7-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on January 12th damaging much of Port-au-Prince.

OTTAWA — The more than 2,000 Canadian Forces personnel in Haiti are beginning a gradual return to Canada as the emergency phase of international earthquake relief efforts move to longer term assistance programs.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said at a news conference Monday that Canada is "beginning to progressively see the withdrawal of Canadian Forces assets."

The Defence Department reported a week ago that 2,046 Canadian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel are deployed in Canada's humanitarian response to the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti, on Jan. 12, reducing the capital, Port-au-Prince, to rubble and devastating other communities on the Caribbean island.

Military personnel were to stay for 30 to 60 days, he said.

The Armed Forces have evacuated Canadian and U.S. citizens and provided medical aid and security for distribution of food aid as part of the Canadian aid effort.

In an appeal for international support on Sunday, Haitian President Rene Preval said the death toll could reach 300,000. Haitian officials had previously put the death toll at 217,000. He said more than a million Haitians are sleeping in the streets and the onset of the rainy season has begun to make dignified life impossible for them.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Source: MontrealGazette

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