Background

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake and a multitude of aftershocks struck Haiti on the afternoon of Tuesday 12th January, 2010 causing widespread destruction to housing and other basic infrastructure and services. The capital, Port-au-Prince is one of the most severely hit regions and according to a senior Haitian Red Cross official, the estimated number of persons killed is probably running into  several thousands and the  three million people of the capital city of Port-au-Prince are affected in one way or the other.

What we have seen on television is a massive number of shell-shocked persons painfully wandering the battered streets of Port-au-Prince desperately searching for water, food and medical help.  The Honourable Prime Minister of Dominica, Mr. Roosevelt Skerrit has committed his government to respond in the short-term to the emergency needs of the Haitian people and to seek to bring some urgent relief to the victims of this catastrophe.

Purpose

The Prime Minister has therefore appointed a Task Force comprising resource persons from the Public and Private Sectors and Civil Society to spearhead Dominica’s relief effort to Haiti. The Honourable Prime Minister who is currently the Chairman of CARICOM will lead a delegation of CARICOM Heads to Haiti later today to obtain a first-hand appreciation of the situation on the ground so that CARICOM will be better informed on how best to address its response to the crisis in Haiti.

The Task Force which is headed by the Minister for National Security, Immigration and Labour (with responsibility for Disaster Emergency Management), Honourable Charles Savarin, met on Thursday morning in the Cabinet Room and arrived at a plan to coordinate the national effort for ensuring that Dominica’s response is carried out in a well organized and effective manner.  The Committee will also provide guidance on what are the essential supplies needed. DEXIA has been assigned the responsibility for receiving all supplies of dry goods contributed by members of the public and business enterprises. The Task Force is also charged with the responsibility for making the necessary arrangements for getting these supplies across to Haiti.

The Prime Minister has already received commitment from Venezuela for the provision of a military transport plane to airlift the supplies of water and other goods from Dominica to Haiti. Discussions are ongoing with the Venezuelan Authorities to make a vessel available for the shipping of additional relief supplies to Haiti later on.

Essential Supplies

The main essential relief supplies required presently in Haiti are water, food and medical supplies and for that reason, Dominica will be seeking to provide a significant quantity of bottled water on an emergency basis. Miss Jenevieve Astaphan, President of the DAIC will be also coordinating with other local businesses on the supply of water and dry goods. The Government therefore wishes to appeal to the Dominican people to show their love and generosity to  the Haitian people in this moment of need by donating whatever amount of bottled water and dry goods that they can afford to give.

The Government shall establish a special account at the National Bank of Dominica (NBD) and invites generous contributions in cash according to each person and/or institution means in support of the Haitian people.

Amnesty for Haitians
The Dominican Government has decided that a six (6) month extension of residence will be allowed in respect of those Haitians in Dominica who may have overstayed or whose immigration status may otherwise be irregular. In this way such persons will be free to go about their business without fear of being confronted by the Immigration Authority once they have applied for an extension.

First Respondents

The Government has also asked the Fire Brigade and Police to identify a small contingent from among their ranks should a request be made for such assistance.

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HONOURABLE CHARLES SAVARIN
Minster for National Security, Immigration and Labour
Chairman of Task Force for Relief Effort to Haiti
January 14, 2010