Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pakistan to request DART help

The Pakistani government will soon ask Canada to deploy its rapid disaster response team to flood-ravaged areas in the country, a spokesman at Pakistan's embassy in Ottawa says.
Members of Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), seen here preparing for service in Haiti last January, may soon be on their way to Pakistan. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)
Muhammad Saleem, the embassy's deputy high commissioner, told CBC News on Thursday that his country is looking forward to receiving the Disaster Assistance Response Team, also known as DART, to augment relief efforts.
"It may happen today; it may happen tomorrow," Saleem said of the pending request.
DART is made up of about 200 Canadian Forces personnel and is designed to fly quickly into disaster areas around the world. The primary goal of the team is to provide emergency services, such as drinking water and medical treatment, until long-term aid arrives.
The Canadian government makes the decision to send DART after it receives a request from an individual country or the United Nations.
Canada has not yet received an official request for the services of DART from the Pakistani government in Ottawa or Islamabad, Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Catherine Loubier said Thursday.
Loubier said Canadian officials are in daily contact with the Pakistani government on the best way for Canada to continue helping in relief efforts.
Saleem said the disaster stretches from the north to the south of the country.
The UN estimates that more than 17 million people have been affected by the floods, which began almost a month ago with hammering monsoon rains in the country's northwest. About 1.2 million homes have been destroyed, leaving five million people homeless.
Most of the more than 1,500 deaths occurred early in the flooding, but officials say the crisis is still growing.

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