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US offers humanitarian coordination with UAE on Haiti operations

posted on 22/01/2010: 752 views

The United States has offered to coordinate directly with the UAE government, especially through the military, on humanitarian and relief operations in Haiti, according to US Ambassador to UAE Richard G, Olson, Jr.

In an interview with WAM, the US envoy said he was asked by H.H Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA), to talk about humanitarian programs and operations for Haiti.

Olsen stressed that the United States was asked by the Haitian government to take over the responsibility for air traffic control because the US military had and has the capability to do that.

The Port au Prince Airport, on a typical day before the crisis, was receiving 13 airplanes per day and now is receiving over 120 flights per day, a dramatic increase in the air traffic coming in and there are limits to what the airport can actually support, he remarked.

"The US military has done a magnificent job of balancing these requirements (at the airport where) 70% of the aircraft coming in are civilian and 30% are military, all of them are (mostly) carrying humanitarian supplies." He also stressed that the US forces are operating under the guidance of the government of Haiti as to what the priorities are." The priorities at Port au Prince were established by government of Haiti and are "to bring in the largest aircraft first and to bring in those perishable supplies and those that have a safety reason or need to refuel." Talking on reconstruction of Haiti, the next phase of efforts for the quake-wrecked Haiti, already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Olsen confirmed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel on Monday to Montreal, Canada to attend a conference of international donors on generating better coordination of aid for quake-shattered Haiti.

Within the United States, Olsen noted that President Barrack Obama has asked his two immediate predecessors - former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton - to set up the fund to raise funds for relief and recovery efforts in Haiti and ensure that contributions continue long after the news media moves on to other stories.

He said the United States has accelerated procedures to bring in Haitian children who had been adopted in Haiti in accordance with international standards and Haitian law.

"We thought it would be a tragedy if those children were subject to hardship in Haiti." He applauded the humanitarian efforts of the people and the four major charities of the UAE who launched urgent humanitarian operations for Haiti.

The UAE Red Crescent earlier said is sending 145 tonnes of relief material to Haiti through an air bridge ordered by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al- Nahyan in coordination with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Also in UAE, and in response to the devastating earthquake that has affected over 1 million primary school-aged children, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has instructed Dubai Cares to provide educational assistance to the children of Haiti.

Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti is estimated to have left some 200,000 people dead and more than 1.5 million homeless, with at least 70,000 bodies collected from the rubble so far. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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