Operation STRUCTURE was the CF's humanitarian aid response to the tsunamis that struck Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004.
The CF Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) began preparations to deploy within hours of news of the devastation caused by the tsunamis. The DART is a group of trained medical staff, engineers with a multitude of skills and soldiers who know how to operate in such a challenging environment. The DART is the CF's best and primary tool available to deal with disasters of this magnitude.
On January 2, 2005, the Prime Minister announced the imminent deployment of the DART to the Ampara region of Sri Lanka. This was confirmed in the days after by the final recommendation of a 17-member interdepartmental reconnaissance team sent to Sri Lanka on December 30. The reconnaissance team included an advance party of 11 CF members. The DART ceased operations after their successful 40-day relief-support in Sri Lanka on February 19, 2005.
The Ampara region is located on the east coast of Sri Lanka, approximately 300 kilometres from the capital, Colombo. Ampara, a district of approximately 600,000 people, was one of the districts worst affected by the December 26 tsunami, with an estimated 10,400 people killed. Approximately 180,000 people were displaced, and damage to hospital infrastructure and water supplies is significant.
The DART medical teams saw more than 7,620 patients while engineers have produced nearly three million-and-a-half litres of drinking water and transported more than 70,000 people across a local waterway. In addition, the DART has conducted several community humanitarian projects such as repairing schools, clearing rubble and helping with the construction of temporary shelters.
Canada's reaction to the news of the tsunamis was swift and generous. Canadian aid was concentrated on Sri Lanka, where an estimated 30,000 people died and 490,000 were displaced.
The DART deployment complemented the efforts of more than 100 governmental organizations and NGO's registered in the Ampara Region.
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