Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Military Advance Team Reaches Philippines, Begins Assessment

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Military Advance Team Reaches Philippines, Begins Assessment

Article excerpt

Canadian advance team reaches Philippines

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OTTAWA - A Canadian reconnaissance team landed Tuesday in the Philippines for talks with local officials on how best to provide military help to the Southeast Asian country in the wake of last week's vicious typhoon.

But Canada's larger, military Disaster Assistance Response Team, which deployed for the Philippines on Monday, is currently in Hawaii, waiting for specifics on how and where it can help.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said the DART will be available "at a moment's notice" once the Canadian advance team has provided its assessment.

"We've deployed individuals who are on the ground right now as part of our advance team," Nicholson said in Toronto.

"They are discussing, as we speak, with governmental and non-governmental sources in the Philippines as to how we can be most effective in the assistance that we are prepared to provide."

The advance team includes 17 Canadian Forces personnel and about a dozen civilians, mainly from Foreign Affairs, the minister added. They arrived Tuesday morning in the capital, Manila.

On Monday, a Canadian Forces C-17 departed CFB Trenton, Ont., before stopping over in Hawaii. The massive military cargo plane is carrying 43 members of the DART, along with their equipment.

Nicholson said the equipment included ambulances, a forklift, a communications truck, as well as a fully-supplied medical team.

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird emphasized the speed at which the government had taken action.

Senior aid agency officials in Canada said their organizations and others were scrambling to overcome massive logistical hurdles to reach severely affected areas well away from Manila.

They also said it was necessary for the Canadian government to do exactly what it was doing Tuesday -- consulting carefully with the civilian actors on the ground in the Philippines -- before sending in the DART.

"There's no doubt in my mind they can make an important contribution. The critical thing will be that they co-ordinate that contribution with others," said Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada. …

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