PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s Civil Protection network received a substantial boost with the presentation of SUVs, trucks, boats, canoes, 11,000 solar radios, tents and other disaster-response equipment presented as gifts to the Government of Haiti by the U.S. Department of Defense.
In a ceremony held Thursday, Jan. 5th at the Directorate of Civil Protection in Haiti (DPC) in Port Au Prince, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, signed over the equipment to Haiti’s Minister of the Interior, Defense and the Collectivities Thierry Mayard-Paul, in support of Haiti’s Civil Protection network and ongoing disaster preparedness.
Lt. General Douglas M. Frazer, Commander of the SOUTHCOM, representing the U.S. DOD, together with U.S. Army Commander John Reed, pointed out that the earthquake not only impacted and changed the lives of the people of Haiti but also every member of the U.S. armed forces who came to give relief.
“Courage, resilience and character are examples of strength the people of Haiti exemplified to the armed forces teams,” said Lt. General Fraser. “It is in all our interests—the government of Haiti’s, SOUTHCOM’s and the international community’s—-to continue supporting Haiti’s capacity to respond to disasters. This equipment, which further enhances the capability of Haiti’s Department of Civil Protection (DCP) for disaster response, is tangible proof of the strong relationship between the government of Haiti and the U.S. The continuing commitment of the U.S. to support the government of Haiti, is unwavering.”
The timing of this event coincides with the second anniversary of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that destroyed much of the nation’s infrastructure. According to Mayard-Paul, the equipment provided by the U.S. will help reinforce his Ministry’s comprehensive disaster preparedness strategy, which includes building a network of emergency operations centers, warehouses, disaster and fire stations throughout Haiti in order to help make all parts of the country safer.
“Haiti is in a geographic location that is vulnerable to the variances of nature, including hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes,” said Mayard-Paul. “Our efforts to put this country back on course and to achieve our goals for sustainable economic development are also susceptible to these natural disasters. Therefore, the valuable contributions of our U.S. friends will help substantially in strengthening our disaster mitigation efforts while we continue to serve our individual communities through job creation and economic growth.”
During the event, Mayard-Paul recognized the ongoing support that the U.S. Southern Command has shown Haiti, particularly during the aftermath of the earthquake. “SOUTHCOMM was pivotal during that time of national tragedy, particularly because it played various roles, from disaster relief to wide-scale humanitarian efforts,” he said. “By your example, you have shown us how we can move forward by establishing a new and democratic armed force.”