PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that his country will build a temporary base for the Haitian government offices that were damaged in the Jan. 12 earthquake, The Associated Press reported. Harper, who is visiting the impoverished nation, made the announcement after meeting with Haitian President René Préval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, according to the AP, adding that Canada will invest up to C$12 million (US$ 11.4 million) in the temporary facility. Harper became one of the first heads of government to visit Haiti since it was ravaged by an earthquake when he began a two-day visit on Feb. 15, according to the AP. One of Harper’s biggest priorities is to take a closer look at the role of the Canadian military in the relief effort. He will also visit Jacmel, the ancestral hometown of Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean, before heading to Leogane, where Canadian troops are stationed. “We are continuing to work with the government of Haiti to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance,” Harper wrote in a statement. “At the same time, we now need to address the long-term challenges of reconstruction, based on the principles of sustainability, effectiveness and accountability.” Canada responded quickly to the natural disaster on Jan. 12, as it deployed about 2,000 troops to Haiti, where they were stationed primarily in Jacmel and Leogane, according to the AP. The troops have assisted in food distribution, water purification, providing medical aid and maintaining security. The Canadian government allocated US$85 million immediately to Haiti after the earthquake, but its citizens have raised US$142 million toward the relief effort, prompting the government to donate an additional US$124 million. The earthquake killed 31 Canadians, but 55 still are missing, according to the AP.
United States reduces number of troops stationed in Haiti
The United States military has decreased the number of troops in the impoverished nation to 13,000 from 20,000 because the need for the presence of its armed forces has diminished, U.S. Gen. Douglas Fraser told Agence France-Presse. The general said that the Haitian government is trying to resume control of the airport in the nation’s capital after it requested that the U.S. oversee the facility shortly after the earthquake tore through the country on Jan. 12. “There are roughly 13,000 U.S. military men and women supporting the efforts here in Haiti,” Fraser told AFP during a visit a month after the earthquake. “The international aid and relief efforts have improved and increased in Haiti and we've seen an ability to transition those capabilities to other needs around the world.” Fraser, however, would not set a timetable when he expected the United States’ government to remove all troops, reiterating the military’s presence depends on Haiti’s needs.
Haiti song for charity tops UK chart
“Everybody Hurts,” which was recorded in Great Britain to raise money for Haiti's earthquake victims, has sold more than 453,000 copies in its first week to become the country’s top-selling single, the Official United Kingdom Charts Company (OCC) confirmed to the BBC. The cover of the R.E.M. song, which features several of the United Kingdom’s biggest stars, including Leona Lewis, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams and Take That, was backed by television mogul Simon Cowell. “The public have clearly taken the plight of the Haitian people to heart – this record is huge,” said Martin Talbot, an OCC spokesman. The proceeds from the song will be divided between the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and The Sun newspaper's Helping Haiti campaign, according to the BBC. The song replaced “Fireflies” by Owl City, which dropped to No. 2.