Canadian Troops Bound for Roxas, May Deploy Helicopters

The Canadian Forces are considering the possibility of adding between three to six Griffon helicopters as part of its deployment to the Philippines to aid in relief efforts. The Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Team recently arrived at Iloilo Airport where it will be basing its operations in the Philippines. 

canada griffon helicopter typhoon haiyan relief
Image Source: Yahoo Canada
Canadian Forces Officials report that the current team on the island of Panay are assessing the situation and determining if helicopters will be needed. The Canadian military is currently preparing helicopters for the mission should they be required. Helicopters could provide vital mobility in a region where several communities are on isolated, outlying islands.

Although the Canadian team includes medical personnel, officials say that the initial work will fall on the engineers that must open roads, repair basic infrastructure and provide clean drinking water. Meanwhile, Canadian troops will be departing IloIlo on Friday morning for the coastal city of Roxas where the Canadian relief efforts are to be concentrated. A small contingency will remain behind in Iloilo for logistical support. Overall, the Canadian team will be focusing on two provinces, Capiz, and IloIlo, where roughly 270,000 families have been displaced.

The Canadian team of 64 soldiers that are currently responding to the disaster are spread between Manila and Iloilo while another 54 soldiers are inbound from Canada. "It's neither our aim nor our capability to reach all of those affected places but fortunately, we're not the only show in town," said Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Taylor, Leader of the Canadian DART Team. "The area isn't one of the worst-hit, but is running out of supplies and saw two key industries - fishing and agriculture - wiped out by Typhoon Haiyan. The people are living in the most squalid conditions, trying to salvage what they can from their houses."
The 118 Canadian soldiers deployed to the Philippines include medics and engineers but the focus will be on clearing roads, repairing generators, bottling clean water, and fixing other infrastructure to help other aid workers in the region. "The main objective is to get food, water, medicine, and shelter to the people of the Philippines as soon as possible," said Christian Paradis, Canadian Minister of International Development. 
The Disaster Assistance Response Team has the ability to deploy up to 298 soldiers. However, additional help may be sent from other military units such as the Griffon helicopter squadron. Approximately 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the two key areas where Canada is focusing. Although the region's governors made efforts to stockpile supplies prior to the storm, much of it has depleted. "Those supplies have all but run out now," said Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor. "Certainly, within the next couple of days, if DART wasn't there, they'd begin feeling the effects" of the shortages of supplies. 

canada c17 iloilo philippines typhoon haiyan
"A Canadian Forces C-17 on Tarmac at IloIlo Airport"
Copyright Photo: Tara Yap/PPSG
The next batch of 54 soldiers are scheduled to arrive in the Philippines early on Friday. The C-17 cargo plane will be loaded with additional engineering vehicles and equipment. The decision for Canada to serve in Iloilo and Roxas followed a request from the government of the Philippines. Upon inspecting the area further, the crews will identify what needs the Government of Canada can fill and what additional personnel, supplies, and equipment will be required.

Canada recently announced that it will be fast-tracking immigration applications for those directly affected by the typhoon. The focus will be on Filipinos who had already made applications to come to Canada, particularly those already with family in the country.

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