Monday, January 18, 2010

Operation HESTIA

The Canadian military is going to Haiti to assist in relief efforts. This deployment is part of what is being described as a whole-of-government response by Canada that also involves Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) as well as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The military response, designated Operation HESTIA, includes the destroyer HMCS Athabaskan and frigate HMCS Halifax, both expected to arrive in Haiti today, after sailing from Halifax Harbour last Thursday. Both ships are packed with relief supplies, including the result of a clothing and toy drive among the crews (scroll down when the link opens). The ships will likely anchor off the south coast, since there is a growing mass of maritime traffic in the harbour of the capital, Port Au Prince.

The Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) has been on the ground since last week. DART equipment is maintained on standby at CFB Trenton in order to ensure proximity to the global reach provided by 8 Wing's Hercules and Globemaster transports. DART's primary mission is to provide medical care and to ensure a safe supply of drinking water.

The 200 members of the DART unit will be supplemented by 500 sailors and specialists from Athabaskan and Halifax. There are an additional 1,000 Canadian Forces soldiers who will be sent shortly. Their combined mission will be to provide aid, and to assist the civil authorities in keeping order.

Current casualty estimates place the number dead in Haiti as high as 200,000 people, with an additional 300,000 made homeless. The death and devastation has been staggering, placing this disaster on the same scale as a war.

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