JDF sol­diers leave for Haiti with re­lief sup­plies

United States pro­vides the air­craft

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ja­son Cross Gleaner Writer ja­son.cross@glean­erjm.com

EIGHT JA­MAICA De­fence Force (JDF) sol­diers left the is­land yes­ter­day with re­lief sup­plies for Haiti on a United States-pro­vided air­craft to of­fer as­sis­tance fol­low­ing the dev­as­ta­tion caused by Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

The mil­i­tary air­craft flew out of Ja­maica from the JDF air wing at the Nor­man Man­ley In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

“The ef­fort is a joint ef­fort by CDEMA (Car­ib­bean Dis­as­ter Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency) and ODPEM (Of­fice of Dis­as­ter Pre­pared­ness and Emer­gency Man­age­ment). Ba­si­cally, what we are do­ing is get­ting sup­plies through CDEMA, and it is brought to­gether by ODPEM, and we the JDF as­sist ODPEM with the lo­gis­tics re­quire­ments and tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise for pack­ag­ing, Cus­toms, and all the re­quire­ments to get the re­lief sup­plies ex­ported. There are eight sol­diers from the JDF ac­com­pa­ny­ing the re­lief sup­plies,” the JDF’s Lieu­tenant Colonel Ma­hatma Wil­liams told re­porters.

SOL­DIERS’ JOB

The JDF al­ready has a se­nior of­fi­cer on the ground in Haiti.

“He has been there for al­most two weeks now,” Wil­liams said. “Ba­si­cally, what their (the eight sol­diers’) job will be on the ground is to get these sup­plies to the dif­fer­ent points of dis­tri­bu­tion. They won’t be do­ing the di­rect dis­tri­bu­tion.”

They will also be vis­it­ing dam­aged schools to as­sess and ef­fect re­pairs.

The sol­diers are ex­pected to re­turn to the is­land on Oc­to­ber 26.

Items pro­vided in­clude food, many cases of both large- and small-size bot­tled wa­ter and di­a­pers.

This is the first wave in the over­all ef­fort com­ing out of Ja­maica.

United States Am­bas­sador Luis Moreno said that once the

need arises for US as­sis­tance in pro­vid­ing a plane for trans­port­ing re­lief items to Haiti in the fu­ture, it will be pro­vided.

“When­ever the need arises, we will con­tinue to do that. We are also sup­ply­ing Haiti di­rectly. I think the in­tense ef­forts have some­what ta­pered off. Now, it’s a mat­ter of work­ing with the ma­te­rial

in Haiti. We are sup­port­ing Ja­maican ef­forts – [a] joint op­er­a­tion with the JDF to bring some 20,000 - 30,000 pounds of food stuff and wa­ter,” Moreno said.

He de­scribed what hap­pened to Haiti as a se­ri­ous hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, which he takes per­son­ally.

“It’s a very se­ri­ous hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, and we are do­ing the best to

deal with it. For me, I can take it per­son­ally. I did six years in Haiti, in the mid ’90s and the early 2000s, and Haiti has, un­for­tu­nately, been vic­timised through bad luck and through mishaps that hap­pened through na­ture. They de­serve our sup­port,” he said.

PHO­TOS BY RU­DOLPH BROWN/ PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Luis Moreno (cen­tre), United States am­bas­sador to Ja­maica, greets Ja­maica De­fence Force (JDF) mem­bers be­fore they de­part for Haiti, while Ma­jor Gen­eral Antony Ber­tram An­der­son (right), chief of de­fence staff of the JDF, looks on.

Mem­bers of the Ja­maica De­fence Force and US mil­i­tary pack sup­plies for Haiti on the air­craft yes­ter­day.

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