Canadian disaster assistance team being pulled out of the Philippines

OTTAWA – Canada’s disaster-relief effort in the Philippines is winding up, with the military hoping to get most of its people home for Christmas.

The Disaster Assistance Response Team, deployed in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, has done its work and is preparing to leave the island nation.

“Today the situation in the Philippines has stabilized, with efforts now firmly focused on the way ahead, on recovery and reconstruction,” Neil Reeder, Canada’s ambassador-designate to the Philippines, said Monday.

“The need for the capabilities offered by the DART has passed.”

Col. Steve Kelsey, of Canadian Joint Operations Command, said the aim is to get many of the 315 deployed military personnel home for the holidays.

“We’ve got a lot of smart folks working very hard to get the bulk of folks home for Christmas,” he said.

He added he is “cautious about using a date, because we don’t want to create expectation for the families.”

The Philippines government says the immediate relief efforts are finished and that it can work on long-term needs with its own resources.

“The government of the Philippines has also confirmed that their requirements for the relief phase have been met and civilian partners and the local government are now positioned to attend to the remaining needs of the population,” the Defence Department said in a news release.

After the typhoon traced a path of destruction across the islands, Canada sent military personnel to the northern part of the island of Panay.

Engineers cleared debris, opened roads and restored electrical power.

A military water-purification system provided almost 500,000 litres of drinking water.

Medical teams treated 6,500 patients and help set up aid centres.

The military sent Griffon helicopters to reach isolated communities.

The whole effort was supported by an air bridge to Canada supported by giant C-17 transport planes.

The initial reconnaissance team hit the ground on Nov. 10, with other personnel and supplies arriving in subsequent waves.

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