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Young children are seen at an orphanage on January 18, 2010 following the earthquake that hit in Port au Prince on January 12, 2010. More than 105,000 food rations have been distributed to victims of Haiti's devastating earthquake since the emergency relief operation began last week, the UN's food relief agency said. (JULIEN TACK)
Young children are seen at an orphanage on January 18, 2010 following the earthquake that hit in Port au Prince on January 12, 2010. More than 105,000 food rations have been distributed to victims of Haiti's devastating earthquake since the emergency relief operation began last week, the UN's food relief agency said. (JULIEN TACK)

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One cruise company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said it sees no reason to alter the itinerary of its ships that dock in northern Haiti. Spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said Labadee is quite some distance from the epicentre. By remaining in the area instead of pulling out, the company in many ways is pumping money into Haiti's economy. It has also found other ways to help, donating $1-million to the relief effort, and in delivering food and other supplies to the country.

We have received lots of information on the deployment of Canadian Forces to Haiti. While the DART capability, and military equipment and troops to transport aid has been invaluable, it appears that the delivery of aid on the ground is best done by those with the training and skills to do so. The other countries assisting Haiti have deployed primarily civilians with emergency response and medical skills. My question is: How many civilians has Canada deployed to Haiti through accessing its civilian roster or through its Emergency Response teams from across Canada, or through other means?

Answer: Canada's disaster-relief response to earthquake-ravaged Haiti has been swift. Along with hundreds of Canadian Forces' members, 51 Canadian government officials and 33 embassy staff are on the ground in Haiti. Search and rescue technicians have been working alongside international teams to search for survivors and recover remains. Alongside these efforts, several aid organizations, including CARE Canada and Médecins sans frontières (Doctors without Borders), have been working on the ground to help the people of Haiti.

Is there a limit on the number of reporters that each country can send to Haiti and how are all the reporters, camera crews etc., being supplied with food and water? ~Farenheit 451

Answer: We asked Les Perreaux, who was the first Globe and Mail reporter on the scene in Haiti, to answer this question.

"It sounds like the implication of the question is that journalists take food and water away from earthquake victims. It's an interesting question, and I don't know a clear, satisfactory answer.

There's no limit on the number of journalists, and there are a lot of them.

Most reporters who arrived early brought enough food and water with them to be self sufficient for the first several days. But most hotels still standing have been able to sell food and water at inflated prices. On the streets, food and beverages also remain available, but at a cost.

The problem in these situations is that merchants who hold stocks of food and water aren't usually interested in bankrupting themselves by giving them all away to victims. And there aren't enough supplies to provide for everyone with no fresh supplies coming in for several days.

Most victims, who have lost everything, including their jobs, have no money to pay.

The same rules seem to apply to the airline seats, taxi rides, gasoline and hotel spots journalists consume that would be extremely valuable to any victim. (Most hotels are renting "rooms" but many journalists are storing gear inside and sleeping outside for safety.) Journalists spend a lot of money in the local economy, and employ people. But reporters tend to overpay for everything, which probably also has consequences for the local economy.

At the same time, the work journalists do probably also inflates the amount of vital donations aid groups receive, and their recounting of people's suffering also spurs government into action.

There's no question the massive influx of journalists distorts the situation in several ways, probably for good and bad."

The travel advisory for Haiti asks Canadians in need of assistance there to make their way to the embassy grounds but that: "Canadians should be advised that assistance at the Embassy is limited to basic shelter on the compound grounds, food and water, as the building itself and power and telecommunications services have been greatly affected by the earthquake." I wanted to ask, what is the extent of damage to the embassy? ~ Steve

Answer: Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said in a briefing Wednesday [Jan. 20]that there was damage to the roof and the second floor of the embassy. He said that all embassy officials are fine.

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