The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence, today announced the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will deploy three CH-146 Griffon helicopters and aircrew to further support the Government of Canada’s humanitarian assistance and relief efforts in the Philippines.
Two of the three aircraft are scheduled to deploy tomorrow from Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton aboard a CC-177 Globemaster III.
“The Government of Canada and all Canadians are committed to helping relief and stabilization efforts in the Philippines,” said Minister Nicholson. “These helicopters will provide the Disaster Assistance Response Team with additional means to reach and help those who desperately need our assistance.”
Kelsey also said DART was able to successfully send out a mobile medical team from its base camp in the city of Roxas to treat victims in a hard-hit area.
Some roads remain choked by debris, making it a challenge for Canadian crews to reach certain communities, Kelsey said.
“As they start to interact with the communities, they get a better sense of what’s happening and the true enormity of the challenges,” Kelsey said in a telephone briefing on Saturday.
In all, there will be about 200 members of the DART providing aid to typhoon victims.
Kelsey said co-ordinating the relief work hasn’t been easy.
“One of the challenges on early days is the synchronization of all the efforts,” he said. “Not only the Canadian effort, but in concert with the provincial authorities and non-governmental organizations.”
After an initial week of chaos, the United Nations said the international aid effort in the Philippines was gathering momentum. The UN said more than 107,000 people have received food assistance so far.
In addition to aid operations, efforts remain under way to locate Canadians missing in the aftermath of the typhoon.
Officials have said they are dealing with 55 active cases brought forward by relatives in Canada who’ve asked for help tracking down loved ones.
Canada’s ambassador designate to the Philippines said Saturday that extra consular staff are being sent to the Asian country.
Three additional officers are being dispatched to the city of Roxas to work with the Canadian Forces and local officials, said Neil Reeder, and will help Canada assess the “long term assistance this region may require.”
Canada has committed to fast-tracking Filipino visa applicants and has said that Filipino students and temporary workers currently in Canada will be allowed to apply to have their visas extended so they don’t have to go back to destruction in their home country.