Canada to House Haiti Government Temporarily

Toronto, Feb 16 (IANS) Canada has announced it will temporarily house the government of quake-devastated Haiti.

According to the latest estimates, more than 200,000 people died in the deadly earthquake which hit Haiti Jan 12.

Visiting Haiti Monday to take stock of Canadian relief operations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced $12 million would be spent to raise a temporary base for the Haitian president, prime minister and key ministries and departments.

Harper, who met Haitian President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, said the base - comprising inflatable shelters and modular blocks - will serve as the headquarters of the government for about a year before new buildings come up.

Canada, whose head of state is Haitian-born Governor General Michaelle Jean, will also supply office equipment like computers, electricity and water supply systems and furniture to the Haitian government base.

President Preval, whose presidential house was totally destroyed in the quake, has been operating out of a police station since then.

The Canadian government has already committed $135 million in aid to the ravaged Caribbean country.

Ottawa has also announced to match with equal amount donations of up to $135 million by Canadians who have already contributed $124 million.

Thus, with additional $270 million in the pipeline, it will become one of Canada's biggest contributions to any disaster to this date.

Canada, which lost many citizens in the earthquake, has currently more than 2,000 troops deployed in relief efforts.

Harper is the first western head of government to visit Haiti after the January earthquake.


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