KINGSTON, Jamaica: The tour of duty of Jamaican soldiers and other personnel in Haiti will end by March 19, two weeks later than the government had last indicated.
Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Daryl Vaz, said that Cabinet had granted the extension to ensure there is no dislocation in the relief efforts when the Jamaican team leaves.
“Winding down of operations has begun and there is now a transition period to allow for other CARICOM nations to take up where we left off,” said Vaz.
Last month, Jamaica had indicated it would withdraw its team from Haiti because it could no longer afford the J$773,000 (US$8,714) per day it cost to keep the soldiers, medical practitioners and members of the Fire Brigade in the earthquake-ravaged nation.
The decision was reversed following a commitment of funds from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and it was agreed that the Jamaicans would stay until March 5.
However, now that the CARICOM recovery phase has begun, the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) will remain in place to facilitate the change-over process.
“The Jamaican contingent should be out of Haiti by March 19, which is an extension of two weeks on the basis of the transition between the Jamaicans pulling out and other CARICOM countries coming in,” said Vaz.
Addressing the funding of the operation, Vaz announced J$40 million (US$448,179) has been received to offset the cost incurred up to February 5.
“This sum is currently being liquidated and the requisite accountability procedures being carried out,” said Vaz. “Daily costs being incurred post February 5, is expected to be under the initial figure of $773,000 (US$8,714) per day, due to the decrease in the number of personnel being supported at this time.”
Vaz indicated that support for the additional expenses after February 5, has been committed by CARICOM, but that the actual amount is yet to be determined.
Over 350 Jamaican personnel including medical, military, search and rescue, operational and relief volunteers have been rotated in and out of Haiti to facilitate CARICOM’s Haiti response.