Jamaica’s Haiti Relief Operation winds up March 19

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica will be pulling its relief operations out of earthquake-devastated Haiti by March 19, following Cabinet’s decision to extend the current period by another two weeks.
Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, who made the disclosure at Tuesday’s (March 3) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, said that Cabinet granted the extension to ensure a smooth transition process.
“The Jamaican contingent should be out of Haiti by March 19, which is an extension of two weeks on the basis of the transition between the Jamaicans pulling out and other CARICOM countries coming in,” Mr. Vaz announced.
He explained that a decision was taken by Cabinet just Monday for the extension, so that there would be no dislocation in terms of the relief efforts. 
The Minister noted that, currently, emergency help is still being provided with the focus on offering primary health care at the outreach clinic. Additionally, secondary health care is still being offered for post-operative patients.
In keeping with CARICOM’s decision to focus on the health aspect of the relief operations, an assessment team was deployed on February 19 to finalise details of the health recovery plan.
He said that 159 health care workers were sent to Haiti, and they saw over 10,000 patients. Of the total number of health workers, 141 were from Jamaica, 10 from Barbados, six from The Bahamas, one from St. Lucia and one from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He said that the final health team rotation is to return to Jamaica between March 4 and 5.
In terms of Jamaica’s overall support, Mr. Vaz said that, to date, over 350 Jamaicans  were rotated in and out of Haiti to facilitate the CARICOM response, which included medical, military, search and rescue and operational and relief volunteers.                                        
For its part, the Jamaica Fire Brigade participated in over six search and rescue missions, while the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) provided medical, peace-keeping, relief distribution, logistics, transportation, damage and structural assessment and co-ordination support for operations.
The Ministry of Health and the JDF carried out over 300 major and minor surgical procedures, and have seen over 3,000 patients. He also noted that medical teams reflect regional diversity with personnel from Barbados, St. Lucia and The Bahamas.
In terms of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management’s (ODPEM) input, the agency deployed over $3 million in relief resources and equipment in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Over 500 volunteers have assisted ODPEM with sorting, packing and storing items for Haiti.
Mr. Vaz said that the donation fund, set up by ODPEM, is currently just over $10 million and will be used to support Jamaica’s contribution to the medical response and recovery operations.
Several other Government and non-governmental organisations have contributed to the cause, including: Image ETC, which gave $3.5 million worth of clothing, uniforms and school bags; Heart Trust/NTA; National Outdoor Advertising; Guardian Insurance Brokers; and the Social Development Commission (SDC).
Other relief efforts entailed the Government waiving over US$90,000 in landing fees and airport fees, for aircraft travelling with relief supplies and personnel en route to Haiti requiring refuelling stations and overnight parking.
Turning to the cost of the operation he said that, to date, $40 million has been received to offset the cost incurred up to February 5.
“This sum is currently being liquidated and the requisite accountability procedures being carried out. Daily costs being incurred post February 5, are expected to be under the initial figure of $773,000 per day, due to the decrease in the number of personnel being supported at this time,” Minister Vaz said.                                  
He further pointed out that support for the additional expenditure, after February 5, has been committed by CARICOM, but that the actual amount is yet to be determined.
 “The CARICOM recovery phase will begin on March 6, and the JDF will remain in place up until March 19, to facilitate the change-over process,” he concluded.

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