U.S., U.N. team with Haiti to expand humanitarian assistance effort
January 30, 2010
The U.S. military continues to work in conjunction with inter-agency organizations and the government of Haiti to meet the critical needs of the Haitian people.
Col. Charles Heatherly, JTF-Haiti civil affairs officer, has the responsibility for humanitarian assistance, inter-agency organization as well as host-nation coordination.
Heatherly, who is also the XVIII Airborne Corps civil affairs officer, and his staff were in Haiti very early after the earthquake to establish the military effort in support of the inter-agency partners as well as the government of Haiti.
"Meeting the needs of the Haitian people is paramount to us," said Heatherly, "We continue to expand the distribution of water and food to those people at risk."
"We have had several meetings with senior officials in the Haitian government in order to get their guidelines, to see what their goals are, and to ensure that we are partnering with them in every step of the way," he said.
"We realize that we are guests in this country," said Heatherly. "What we want to leave, when we depart, is a system in place that has been reinforced by our presence - not one that will be degraded as we transition at some point in time in the future."
Heatherly said "This has been one of the most tremendous outpouring of international support, as well as camaraderie amongst the inter-agency partners in the U.S. government that I've ever had the fortune to participate in."
"Not only do we work with the government of Haiti but we work with the United Nations so there is no duplication of efforts with other donors," said Heatherly. "The international community has truly come to the aid of this country and supplies are flowing in everyday, originally by aircraft and now by ship. We just have to get all those resources to the Haitian populace."
Heatherly said the people of the United States can take pride in our tremendous response to the Haitian people.
"If it can be done, it is being done," he said of the recovery process, "From the search and rescue teams on the ground, to the inter-agency colleagues, to the paratroopers of the 2nd Brigade combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, in Port-Au-Prince. They are all working hard to make sure that recovery effort takes hold as fast as it can."
Heatherly said, there are approximately 6,000 Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on the ground and another 10,000 afloat off the shore helping with the humanitarian effort and providing the enabling force necessary to support USAID, inter-agency partners and the Government of Haiti.
Tim Callaghan, a disaster assistance response team leader with the U.S. Agency of International Development is proud to have his team be part of 132 rescues in the last few weeks.
"There are a lot of positive signs of the Haitian people moving on," Callaghan said, "like shops opening up, fresh fruits and vegetables being sold, fresh bread, gas stations opening up."
"We will continue to support the many areas to help the people of Haiti move forward as quickly as we can," he said.
"We must remember why we are here, we are all here to help the people of Haiti," said Callaghan, "we are here and we are dedicated to saving lives, eliminating suffering and mitigating when we can, the social economic impact of a disaster."
"I am proud to see the cooperation of my colleagues, the U.N. and also the people of Haiti," said Callaghan.