Prime Minister Golding and Leader of Opposition to Visit Haiti Today

News and Press Release
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding, will lead a delegation, which will include the Leader of the Opposition, Portia Simpson Miller, to Haiti today (Jan. 14).

The delegation will assess the nature of immediate assistance, which can be rendered by Jamaica in conjunction with international partners following the January 12 earthquake, which has devastated the island.

Yesterday (Jan.13), Mr. Golding met with heads of the various rescue and emergency agencies during which he issued instructions and received updates on Jamaica's assistance.

Jamaica will serve as a co-ordinating centre for many international aid responses, including donations from CARICOM, and Prime Minister Golding noted that it was essential that the Haitian people be supported at this time.

A Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) vessel departed the island last night (Jan. 13) with the first batch of emergency supplies and to provide support for the Jamaican teams that will come after. The JDF will tonight transport to the Haitian capital of Port-au -Prince, six generators, water purification tablets, lanterns, woolen blankets, double mattresses, folding cots, first aid kits, plastic sheeting, tarpaulins, baby diapers, bed linen, ten general purpose tents and bottled water.

Minister with responsibility for Information, Hon. Douglas Vaz, speaks about the national relief effort to Haiti in the aftermath of yesterday's (Jan.12) devastating earthquake, at today's (Jan.13) post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

On Friday (Jan.15), the Ministry of Health will dispatch a team of 20 medical practitioners, including doctors, orthopedic surgeons, and public health nurses, with supplies, on a Canadian C130 cargo aircraft. They will bring immediate medical treatment and tinned food. The Ministry of Health has confirmed that the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) office is operational and will provide logistical information to the Jamaican team.

The Prime Minister was informed by the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Health that coastal surveillance for refugees has started offshore the parishes of St. Mary and Portland and preparations have been put in place to receive, screen and treat such persons.

Jamaica has also committed to the United Nations to provide medical services to victims of the earthquake at the Kingston Public Hospital and University Hospital of the West Indies.

At Wednesday's post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, Minister with responsibility for Information, Hon. Daryl Vaz, expressed sympathy to the Haitian people on behalf of Jamaica. He described the earthquake, which shook the Caribbean island on January 12, as a "devastation that we don't need at this time anywhere in the world."

The Information Minister encouraged Jamaicans to donate to the relief effort through account number 212387304 opened by ODPEM at the National Commercial Bank. ODPEM has also opened a pledge desk and persons can call the office at 906-9674-5 or 754-9077-8 if they are interested in helping the people of Haiti through this tragedy.

Mr. Vaz added that a video board in Half-Way-Tree has also been made available to the Government and will be used to display information in relation to the crisis, including the account number to which donations can be made.

Mr. Vaz also noted that with most of the communication lines affected by the earthquake it was difficult to get information out of Haiti.

"We have been trying desperately since this morning to account for our Jamaicans, who are there, both in terms of residents and also a number of Jamaicans, who go there on business," he said. However, Mr. Vaz informed that all the members of a delegation from the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), who are currently in Haiti, have been accounted for.

He said that Jamaica would be collaborating with the rest of CARICOM to decide on a greater level of response, but that in the meantime, Jamaica is "doing everything in our power to mobilise and get out of here as quickly as possible to help our brothers and sisters."