The Canadian government will provide $5 million for “urgent humanitarian assistance” to Haitians affected by the massive, 7.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked their island country on Tuesday (January 12).
Beverley Oda, minister of international cooperation, announced today (January 13) the funds will help provide emergency shelter, medical services, food, relief items, water and sanitation services, and protection for survivors.
“Our government is deeply concerned about the impact of the earthquake and we want to ensure that the immediate basic needs of the Haitian people are met quickly and effectively,” Oda said in a press release. “In the face of so much devastation, we will continue to work closely with local authorities, international organizations and UN agencies to help bring relief to those affected and provide support as people rebuild their lives and communities.”
Canada will also deploy its military’s Disaster Assistance Response Team to help out on the ground.
Haiti’s prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, told CNN today that several hundred thousand people may have died in the earthquake.
“I hope that is not true, because I hope the people had the time to get out,” Bellerive told the network.
“Because we have so much people on the streets right now, we don’t know exactly where they were living. But so many, so many buildings, so many neighborhoods totally destroyed, and some neighborhoods we don’t even see people.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake was the most powerful in the Caribbean country in over 200 years.
Its epicentre was 15 kilometres southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital and largest city.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement saying that Canadians are “profoundly concerned” about the impact of the earthquake. He noted there is a sizable community of Canadians of Haitian descent.
“While officials are currently assessing the damage and the possibility of Canadians injured, Canada stands ready to provide any necessary assistance to the people of Haiti during this time of need,” Harper said.
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