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Civil Affairs Team Coordinates Assistance with Government Officials in Cap Haitien

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100210-20
Release Date: 2/10/2010 7:53:00 PM

By Tech. Sgt. Victoria Meyer, Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command Public Affairs

CAP HAITIEN, Haiti (NNS) -- A civil affairs team from the Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command met with the delegate of Cap Haitien Feb. 5 to discuss the city's current capabilities and how the team can assist the local government.

Delegate Georgemain Prophete, whose position is comparable to a governor in the United States, explained how approximately 30,000 people fled Port-au-Prince after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake and traveled to his city, which is on the northern coast of Haiti.

The area had practically no damage, but is now faced with taking care of tens of thousands of displaced people in their already struggling communities. Receiving aid from outside agencies is a necessity and a concern of the government in Cap Haitien.

"We will work alongside the government of Haiti, MINUSTAH and NGOs to facilitate aid flow to Cap Haitien and through Cap Haitien to Port-au-Prince," said Maj. Steve Lewis, company commander of the civil affairs team.

"We welcome your help," Prophete said. In the meeting they spoke of the coordination cell system, called the cluster system, which is in place in Port-au-Prince. The cluster system could match up with the emergency response system created in Cap Haitien after the earthquake.

The delegate named the priorities for his task force for emergency response: increase their capacity to respond, keep law and order during a state of emergency, make contributions to the main humanitarian effort by using the city's two sea ports and airport to receive goods and building capacity to take care of the internally displaced persons. He said he wants his task force to help the earthquake victims and prepare their own plan to take care of themselves in case of emergencies in Cap Haitien.

"My main concern is the 30,000 people. Most of them have no food, no shelter and no non-food items," Prophete said. "What are they going to eat or wear? Where will they sleep?"

The civil affairs team has already begun to work with the government of Haiti and numerous non-governmental organizations to answer those questions.

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