JAMAICA has joined scores of countries in sending relief supplies to Haiti to help the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced by Hurricane Matthew, which hit the Caribbean nation on October 4 killing more than 500 people.
Yesterday afternoon, eight Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers were dispatched to the French-speaking country to assist with the distribution of relief supplies. They were flown to the hurricane-battered country on a United States C130 Hercules military aircraft, which was carrying the supplies that included baby diapers, canned meat, bottled water, and tarpaulins that were procured through funding from the Caribbean Development Emergency Management Agency.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management provided procurement, management and logistics services.
Yesterday, when the Jamaica Observer visited the JDF Air Wing at Norman Manley International Airport, the soldiers were observed packing the supplies for the the mission.
Colonel Mahatma Williams disclosed that a JDF soldier is already on the ground in Haiti as part of the Caricom (Caribbean Community) Disaster Unit.
“Basically, what their (newly dispatched soldiers) job will be on the ground is to get these supplies to the points of distribution. They won’t be doing direct distribution, but they will be bringing them to the relevant points of distribution [and] the Haitian authorities will then be responsible for distributing,” Colonel Williams said, noting that the soldiers will also be visiting schools damaged by the storm to effect repairs.
The soldiers are expected to return to Jamaica on October 27.
Meanwhile, United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Luis Moreno yesterday said that the United States is supporting Jamaica’s efforts to bring more than 30,000 pounds of food items and humanitarian assistance to Haiti.
“It is just a bilateral, multilateral effort. Caricom is involved; other people from the Caribbean are involved; it really shows how Jamaica has become a regional leader. We will continue to support these types of operations whenever the unfortunate circumstances present themselves,” Ambassador Moreno said.
Others partners in the initiative are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, The Jamaica Customs Agency, The Airports Authority of Jamaica, and Jamaica Constabulary Force.