JIS News

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is deeply distressed and shocked by the enormous loss of life and devastation wrought on its Member State, Haiti and in particular the capital, Port-au-Prince, by the powerful earthquake of Tuesday 12 January 2010.
This latest setback to the development of the country will truly test the resilience of the Haitian people. Their tremendous resolve and determination however, will undoubtedly serve them in great stead as they move forward from this tragic event. The Caribbean Community grieves with its brothers and sisters in Haiti and extends heartfelt condolences to the Government and People of that Member State and to all others who have lost family and friends.
CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, held consultations throughout Wednesday with his colleague Heads of Government as well as with other leaders in the hemisphere. The Chairman is leading a fact-finding mission to Haiti on Friday.
In addition, CARICOM is moving rapidly to mobilise emergency assistance. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is co-ordinating the regional response for its latest member, Haiti, which joined in September 2009. The regional response mechanism has identified four priority areas in this regard: emergency aid; shelter; search and rescue; and communication.
Search and Rescue Teams are on standby to proceed to Haiti as required and CDEMA has also been liaising with its partners, the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the Regional Security System (RSS), the CARICOM Secretariat, CAREC/PAHO and the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) with a view to putting in place immediately, an assessment team in order to provide appropriate guidance for the immediate needs of the Haitian people. The assessment team will also be travelling to Haiti on Friday 15.
Within CDEMA’s operational structure, Haiti falls in a sub-regional grouping for which Jamaica serves as the focal point. Jamaica will therefore serve as the staging point for the regional response. The Bahamas has offered the use of its Embassy – which was not damaged during the earthquake – for the operations in Port-au-Prince.
Directors of Civil Aviation of CARICOM Member States who were attending a meeting of the CASOS in Port au Prince are all safe and accounted for. Efforts are being made for their evacuation as soon as possible.
In light of the communication difficulties, some of the staff of the CARICOM Representation Office in Haiti (CROH) have not yet been accounted for. The Office has not been damaged.
The CROH, which is funded by CIDA, was re-established in October 2007 to assist Haiti in its integration into the CARCOM Single Market and Economy. The CROH will play a very important role as the Community continues to provide support to its member state, Haiti, particularly in its recovery and reconstruction efforts.
CARICOM has accepted an offer from the Government of Australia for immediate assistance to help the rapid response effort and there has also been collaboration with the United States Office of Disaster Assistance (OFDA) based in Miami, Florida.
CARICOM expresses its continuing solidarity with Haiti in this trying and sad time. Our prayers go out to the people and Government of Haiti.

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