Canada to help Haiti build temporary government base

Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:01pm EST
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PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Canada will help build a temporary administrative base for Haiti's government from which to manage the country's rebuilding after last month's earthquake destroyed many ministries, Canada's prime minister said on Monday.

Stephen Harper announced Canada's support for construction of the facilities at the start of a two-day visit to the impoverished Caribbean country more than a month after the January 12 quake that killed more than 200,000 people.

In response to a request by Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, Canada's government would provide up to $12 million to support the establishment of the base for up to one year.

The temporary administrative base will consist of semi-permanent modular shelters and soft-sided air inflatable shelters and will accommodate key ministries and Haitian civil servants so they can work together on recovery efforts.

"The establishment of a Temporary Government Administrative Base is an important step toward early recovery and reconstruction efforts," Harper said after talks with Bellerive and Haitian President Rene Preval.

Canada would also assist with providing the base with office equipment and supplies such as computers and desks, as well as electricity, water and cooling systems and sanitation facilities.

Last month's quake collapsed the presidential palace and the National Assembly and destroyed or damaged several major ministries, forcing Preval and his ministers to conduct government business from a police station and other temporary locations.

A preliminary assessment of the feasibility and cost of transportation, installation, operations and maintenance of the base has been completed, and construction would begin once the site location had been confirmed by the Haitian government.

"Canada will continue to support the Haitian government as it moves forward with its reconstruction and development agenda," Harper said.

Canadian officials said Canada was the second largest foreign donor to Haiti following the disaster and Harper was due on Tuesday to visit medical and construction services being provided by the Canadian military in the southern port of Jacmel and at Leogane, west of Port-au-Prince.

(Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Peter Cooney)

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephan Harper (L) speaks next to Haiti's President Rene Preval (R) during a news conference at Port-au-Prince February 15, 2010. REUTERS/St. Felis Evens</p>