I returned from Haiti Sunday morning at 10:00am with the 17 police officers who had accompanied me for four days on the Mayor of Montreal's humanitarian mission to Haiti.
This mission was set-up at the request of Mr. Jean-Yves Jason, Mayor of Port-au-Prince, and the UN-Habitat Agency, a partner of the SPVM within the UN police force (www.un-habitat.org).
It is thanks to the support of many partners, both local and in the field who believed in the Mayor's mission, that we succeeded in achieving our goals. I make a point of thanking, among others, Air Transat and Air Canada airlines who graciously agreed to carry the members and materials for the humanitarian missions to Haiti and back, which dramatically reduced the mission's expenses. The leaders of Montreal Haitian organizations were also approached to join the mission, which made those available able to participate.
Update on the Koudmen mission in Haiti
We wanted to make sure the mission would not cause an additional burden for Haiti and so we called upon police officers of Haitian origin to join the mission. Even without uniforms and weapons, they have good training which enables them to help on the ground.
Those who were selected were chosen for their knowledge of the area and the Creole language as well as their skill of quickly and effectively establishing a network of contacts. Obviously, They were an invaluable help because, thanks to them, the members of the mission could find shelter and food without depleting the already precious resources.
Our mission consisted of various directives:
The UN-Habitat Agency was pleased with the collaboration of the SPVM as recognized experts in regards to local policing. It was necessary to create a survey of urban security if we wanted to be able to plan further missions and prepare for those who will come to coordinate the rebuilding. It was also necessary to prepare the necessary infrastructure to receive these people.
We located the various districts where we could be most useful. Feedback was sent, as of Monday, to Mayor Tremblay and the person in charge of the UN-Habitat Agency in Montreal.
This will help to plan the next moves for the Safer Cities program, to which the SPVM subscribes via the U.N. operation for a police force for safe development.
2. Re-establishment of links and communication
Montreal's City Hall commitment to Port-au-Prince's was also renewed. The Mayor of Port-au-Prince was at the airport to welcome the mission. In addition to Mayor Jason, we met Prime Minister Bellerive, the wife of President Rene Préval, representatives from the French embassy and the commander of the Canadian delegation of the MINUSTAH, to which our police officers on mission belong.
These face to face meetings allowed us to initiate talks on the future in dialogue with those already there. We also succeeded in restoring the lines of telecommunications to City Hall and the Ministry of Communications, met the Minister for the Diaspora and connected the government with Radio Haiti-Montréal in order to allow more direct and specific information to be sent out. It is very important to maintain contact with the people on the ground if we want to adapt plans for the current needs and realities.
3. Medical support
As a major objective of this mission was to meet the immediate health needs of the population, the doctors and nurses who were part of the trip and will continue to still lend a strong hand to the population over the next two weeks, minimum.
In addition, thanks to a sum of 10,000$ collected by the Fondation des employés du SPVM, we could acquire and bring drugs and medical supplies to Port-au-Prince. I would like to point out and thank all the initiatives taken by our units and police officers in order to collect the most funds possible.
4. Support for our police officers
Another important objective was to constantly visit our police officers on the mission to bring comfort, psychological support and to evaluate their situations.
They are on the job and operate as well as can be expected considering the circumstances. We maintain a constant connection with them.
Anyone who wishes to obtain information in connection with the earthquake can call 1-800-387-3124.
Through the Fondation des employés du Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, the SPVM is organizing a fundraising campaign towards its personnel, who will be able to contribute to the fundraiser until January 30th, 2010. The funds collected will contribute to the rebuilding of the cities destroyed and to assist the local population.
We encourage all citizens who wish to help this community to donate to the Red Cross.
The SPVM recommends vigilance to citizens if they wish to donate money to assist disaster victims. We suggests you make any donation directly to charity organizations, without going through representatives. The majority of frauds are committed by false representatives or third parties.
You can find recognized Aid organizations at Canada Revenue Agency.
Yvan Delorme, directeur SPVM
SPVM - International Missions
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