Operation HORATIO was the Canadian Forces participation in the Government of Canada humanitarian assistance effort in the Republic of Haiti, which was struck by four hurricanes — Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike —in August 2008.
Haiti occupies the western end of Hispaniola, the second-largest island of the Greater Antilles, and (as of September 2008) has a population of about 8.7 million.
Joint Task Force Haiti
Commander: Lieutenant-Colonel C.J. Turenne
Joint Task Force Haiti comprised all the Canadian assets deployed on the humanitarian aid mission in Haiti, including the Interdepartmental Strategic Support Team (ISST) and the Halifax-class frigate HMCS St. John’s.The ISST deployed to Port-au-Prince on 10 September 2008 with the following mandate:
- assess the situation,
- recommend the Canadian federal resources that would best meet the needs of the people of Haiti,
- co-ordinate Canadian activities, and
- advise the Ambassador and representatives of other Canadian federal institutions working in the region.
The ISST comprised:
- development workers from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA),
- diplomats from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade(DFAIT), and
- military personnel from the Canadian Forces Joint Headquarters in Kingston, Ontario.
HMCS St. John’s was already deployed in the Caribbean Sea on a counter-narcotics operation when she was redirected to Haiti to assist the ISST. St. John’s carried a CH-124 Sea King helicopter detachment from 12 Wing Shearwater.
Progress of the mission
The ISST conducted its assessment in co-operation with the Government of Haiti. Storm damage was found to be the worst in the country’s southern region, where the destruction of vital infrastructure such as roads and bridges made overland transportation of aid supplies very difficult.
When the World Food Programme asked for help transporting supplies, HMCS St. John’s accepted the challenge of delivering urgently needed food to the devastated region south of Port-au-Prince. By the time the operation concluded, St. John’s had delivered more than 450 metric tons of rice, corn-soya meal, bottled water, water purification tablets and other relief supplies over a 13-day period. The ship’s helicopter flew more than 20 sorties, reaching communities all along the coast of Haiti’s southern peninsula.
Other Canadian initiatives
Canada is the second-largest bilateral donor in Haiti, which is the largest recipient of Canadian long-term development assistance in the Americas, and the world’s second-largest recipient of Canadian aid, after Afghanistan.
On 6 September 2008, the Government of Canada announced the following donations:
- $600,000 in aid to Haiti, including the provision of emergency relief supplies,
- $43,000 to Médecins du Monde for delivery of water, hygiene kits and primary health care to hurricane victims, and
- $100,000 to the Preliminary Emergency Appeal of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) to assist 7,000 families affected by the devastation in Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica.
On 9 September 2008, the Government of Canada announced a further donation of $5 million to help provide Haitians most in need with potable water, sanitation services, food, shelter and health care. This funding was granted in response to an appeal from the United Nations and other agencies operating in Haiti, and delivered through trusted humanitarian agencies.
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