CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY - CIDA

CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY - CIDA

May 13, 2008 18:02 ET

Canada to Airlift 2,000 Emergency Shelter Kits to Burma

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 13, 2008) - The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today announced that the Government of Canada will send 2,000 much needed emergency shelter kits to the devastated Rangoon region on Wednesday, May 14.

"Canada's response to the growing humanitarian crisis in Burma will provide much-needed shelter to up to 10,000 people affected by the disaster," said Minister Oda. "Our Government remains committed to responding to humanitarian crises such as this one created by Cyclone Nargis. Thankfully, Canada has mechanisms in place to effectively and immediately help populations affected by natural disasters. Working with the International Red Cross Movement, all necessary steps have been taken to ensure these will reach families in need."

"Canada remains deeply concerned about the well-being of the people in Burma who are suffering gravely in the aftermath of the cyclone," Minister Bernier said. "We call upon the Burmese government to move rapidly to meet the immediate needs of the affected communities, rather than pushing forward with the upcoming referendum on the constitution. We continue to advocate, both with Burma directly and through diplomatic contacts with other countries in the region and around the world, for full and unhindered access for all humanitarian organizations and aid workers."

On Wednesday May 14, the shelter kits will be shipped from CFB Trenton to Bangkok via ONE OF the Department of National Defence's FOUR Globemaster C-17 aircraft. The International Red Cross Movement will then manage the shipment into the Rangoon region and distribute the shelter kits to people in need in the affected areas.

"By using our C-17, Canada's Government is responding to the humanitarian emergency in Burma with a large shipment of emergency aid supplies," said Minister MacKay. "These supplies will bring much-needed relief to Burma in a timely fashion."

"Over 27,000 Myanmar Red Cross volunteers have been working around the clock since this disaster struck. Red Cross volunteers will be distributing these relief supplies from the Government of Canada directly to the survivors of Cyclone Nargis,"said Canadian Red Cross Secretary General Conrad Sauve. "Our ongoing relationship with the Government of Canada allows Canadian Red Cross to translate the care and compassion of Canadians into immediate and meaningful help for people affected by disasters around the world."

Canada is monitoring the situation and will continue to respond as the humanitarian crisis in Burma evolves. Canada is working with the United Nations and non-governmental organizations to assess how we may be able to best assist the people of Burma. Core funding provided by Canada to international humanitarian agencies enables these partners to begin assessments and to provide immediate relief in the aftermath of natural disasters.


BACKGROUNDER

An acute need for emergency shelter supplies has been identified in Burma. The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) is coordinating the overall shelter response in Burma and has appealed to donors for the in-kind contribution of 20,000 emergency shelter kits.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) maintains a stock level of 5,000 of these kits in its emergency stockpile in Mississauga, Ontario. Each shelter kit contains two tarpaulins and a set of basic tools (shovel, rope, hammer, nails, hand saw, etc.). These shelter kits were designed by the International Federation of the Red Cross following extensive consultations with operational humanitarian agencies and building on lessons learned in previous disasters that exposed the limitations of other approaches to disaster sheltering.

On Wednesday May 14, 40 metric tonnes of emergency relief supplies will be moved from CIDA's emergency stockpile in Mississauga to CFB Trenton. They will then be loaded onto ONE OF THE Canadian military's FOUR C-17 Globemasters for airlift to Bangkok, Thailand where officials from the Canadian Government and the Red Cross Movement will receive them.

The Red Cross will then take over delivery to Rangoon and onward distribution to beneficiaries in affected areas. The IFRC will closely track the movement of goods, ensuring timely and effective transit through Bangkok and Rangoon.. The Burmese authorities have provided the Red Cross Movement with a satisfactory level of access and operational independence with regards to incoming shipments of emergency relief materials and onward distribution of emergency supplies.

This shipment is part of the initial $2 million commitment Canada made on May 5, 2008 to respond to Tropical Cyclone Nargis. Canada's annual core contributions to key Canadian and international partners are already helping its partners provide relief efforts to the people of Burma. For example, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated nearly $20 million in response to this crisis. With a 2008 contribution of $39.4 million, Canada is the CERF's fifth largest donor. Canada is continuing to work closely with trusted partners such as United Nations humanitarian agencies, the Red Cross Movement and experienced non-governmental organizations to determine how Canada's support can best meet the humanitarian needs of the people affected by Cyclone Nargis.

This emergency stockpile is one component of CIDA's Rapid Response Project, a service contract held by the Canadian Red Cross Society, to rapidly deploy Canadian technical expertise and emergency relief supplies, procured according to established international specifications, in response to sudden-onset humanitarian crises. These deployments complement financial contributions made by CIDA to trusted non-government organizations and agencies for humanitarian relief efforts.

Cyclone Nargis struck Burma during the night of May 2, with devastating impact. Accurate information has been difficult to obtain and the full scale of the disaster is not yet known. The UN estimates that up to 100,000 people have died as a result of the storm, and at least 1.5 million people have been severely affected. These numbers are expected to increase once ongoing assessments are made in the following days.

To date, there are no reports of Canadian deaths or injuries as a result of the cyclone. Canadians are advised against non-essential travel to Burma due to extensive damage caused. Canadians in the region can contact Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in Ottawa at sos@international.gc.ca or make a collect call to 613-996-8885.

Canadians interested in providing donations in response to Tropical Cyclone Nargis in Burma should consult our information webpage about humanitarian exemptions to Canada's sanctions against Burma. http://geo.international.gc.ca/cip-pic/library/howcanadians-en.aspx.

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