August 13, 2014 – Vancouver, BC
Check Against Delivery
Good morning, everyone.
Thank you for joining us. I am pleased to be here today, on behalf of the Honourable Christian Paradis, Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie.
The Asia-Pacific region is among the world’s most vulnerable to natural disasters.
We have seen it in recent years as devastating earthquakes, typhoons and tsunamis have rocked coastlines and in some cases wiped entire communities off the map.
Lives have been stolen and livelihoods lost.
We saw it last fall, when the most powerful storm ever recorded made landfall in the Philippines.
Typhoon Haiyan did not arrive unpredictably. We all knew days in advance that it was churning in the Pacific, and that if it kept to its anticipated course, the Philippines would fall directly in its path.
And still, even with the ability to predict and with time to prepare, more than 6,000 people died.
Millions were affected.
And with a large number of injuries and indescribable destruction of property and infrastructure, the Philippines needed emergency humanitarian help.
As Canada and Canadians tend to do in such cases, we joined the international response without delay.
Within 24 hours of the storm making landfall, we had pledged financial support to humanitarian partners on the ground, allowing them to provide immediate assistance.
We also supported the deployment of a Canadian Red Cross field hospital.
In a single month of operation, medical personnel in that makeshift facility assisted more than 1,200 patients, delivered 418 babies and performed 114 surgeries.
It was a precise operation, made possible by the Red Cross’s ability to mobilize the right people and make the most of their skills.
Last month, tragedy struck again.
On July 15, Typhoon Rammasun (locally known as Glenda) made landfall in Albay province in the Bicol region, on the eastern coast of the Philippines.
While the full impact of Typhoon Rammasum is not yet known, reports indicate that more than 100 people have died, more than 4 million have been affected, and more than 500,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.
The Government of Canada provided up to $250,000 to help the Canadian Red Cross Society, in partnership with the Philippine Red Cross, to meet the urgent needs of nearly 14,000 typhoon-affected people.
With our support, they will provide essential household items such as plastic mats, mosquito nets, blankets, jerry cans and hygiene kits.
With both Typhoon Haiyan and Typhoon Rammasun still so fresh in our memories, my next announcement is most timely.
I am proud to announce that the Government of Canada is contributing $3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross for emergency response in the Asia-Pacific region.
This funding is providing life-saving assistance in response to humanitarian needs in the region. It is helping to improve health and living conditions, and protecting people affected by crises throughout the region.
It is allowing for provision of water, sanitation, hygiene, health care and shelter and it is helping people in need to resume their livelihoods and rebuild their lives.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is an important partner for Canada in situations of conflict and violence.
And we respect its consistent ability to meet the needs of populations affected by conflict, to access people in places where few others can go, and to advance international humanitarian law and policies.
The ICRC is often one of the first organizations in—and among the last ones out of—a humanitarian crisis. Its people go the distance, and we support their efforts.
So it is our pleasure and privilege to support the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Asia-Pacific region, so they can carry on with their work to ease the human suffering caused by humanitarian situations.
We make this contribution because Canada has a long tradition of generously helping the world’s most vulnerable people. We live up to the values we hold dear, and want to assist people in their time of greatest need.
It is this compassion and generosity that embodies the value that Canada places on international assistance—whether in the form of humanitarian assistance or long-term development programming.
We make this commitment for many reasons, chief among them because it is an expression of the values we believe in.
The Government of Canada has made our commitment clear: we provide humanitarian assistance when the basic needs of people affected by crises are not met—a commitment reiterated with today’s announcement.