Dominican Republic Organizes Emergency Mission to Assist Haiti

Dominican Republic Organizes Emergency Mission to Assist Haiti

By Yubelin Mariel/Diálogo
October 17, 2016

In a show of solidarity with the Haitian people, Dominican President Danilo Medina traveled to Haiti to meet with his Haitian counterpart, Jocelerme Privert, on Sunday, October 9th and to offer humanitarian assistance in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. The Dominican government assembled a humanitarian response team that included the Armed Forces, the Administrative Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry of Public Works, and the Ministry of Public Health, among others. Hurricane Matthew took a heavy toll on country, especially in South department, with a population of around 2 million people. Between 80 percent and 98 percent of homes were destroyed, leaving the population to face famine and poor sanitary conditions. Response of the Armed Forces Dominican Defense Minister, Lieutenant General Rubén Darío Paulino Sem, is overseeing the Armed Forces’ efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Haiti, as ordered by Pres. Medina. This response is part of the Strategic Plan of the Dominican Armed Forces, which includes enhancing disaster and public emergency services such as search-and-rescue and transporting at-risk citizens to shelters. Military personnel escorted the convoys that left for Haiti on Tuesday, October 11th with food, medicine, mattresses, sheets, mosquito netting, safe drinking water, water purification products, construction materials, machinery for repairing roads, etc. Twenty engineers were also deployed to assess and quantify the damage. Lt. Gen. Paulino visited the border to supervise the progress of the humanitarian mission. “The Dominican Navy sent two patrol vessels to the Pedernales area and an additional one to the Manzanillo area,” Lt. Gen. Paulino told the media at the Jimaní and Malpasse border crossing. José Ramón Peralta, Administrative Minister of the Office of the President and spokesperson for the effort to Haiti, highlighted the participation of the Dominican Armed Forces as a key pillar of the response. He gave special mention to the Dominican Navy, which provided a vessel to ferry cooked food along the southern coast of the country to the most devastated area in South department. “The Armed Forces, specifically the Navy, has provided a ship that will travel by sea directly to the affected area. The vessel will be stocked with food cooked in Pedernales to be brought every day to the South department, where Les Cayes, Nippes, Grand'Anse and other cities are located.” According to Minister Peralta, “Haiti needs the help and solidarity of the entire world, of the international community, of businesses, but it especially needs us to lend them a hand, as has been the custom in our country. Helping Haiti also means helping the Dominican people, because outbreaks of malaria and other diseases are beginning to occur.” Matthew’s impact on the Dominican Republic Matthew inflicted minor damage on the Dominican Republic. On October 1st, the Armed Forces, in coordination with the Emergency Operations Center (COE, per its Spanish acronym), set in motion the Plan Relámpago (Lightning) for responding to natural disasters over concerns that Matthew would move through the Caribbean. Flooding from Hurricane Matthew cut off 46 communities, and the storm caused three bridges to collapse. Around 3,500 dwellings were affected, some of them being completely destroyed. During rescue operations, 20 roads were cleared by removing downed trees and power poles. “This is unprecedented. In my 12 years at the institution, this is the first time we have had the cooperation and constant presence of the ministers of Defense, Public Health, and Public Works,” said General Manuel Méndez, director of the COE. In praise of the inter-agency cooperation, he added that the authorities shared information with various institutions nationwide. “All of the sectors worked in close collaboration. I especially want to commend the response capacity of the Dominican Republic’s Armed Forces. The people felt our presence and were grateful for it.”
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