MISSION: Prime Minister Andrew Holness (third left), conversing with members of the Royal Canadian Air Force at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 7. This was ahead of a relief mission to the Bahamas by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), through support from Canada. Also pictured (from right) are: Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Laurie Peters; Canadian Defence Attaché to the West Indies, Col. Jacques O’Keefe; and Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Rocky Meade.
A contingent of 120 Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers departed the island Saturday afternoon, September 7, to provide recovery and humanitarian support to the Bahamas following the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian.
They were accompanied by 11 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, which provided airlift support.
At least 43 persons in the Bahamas have died, and homes and infrastructure destroyed as a result of Hurricane Dorian, which hit the country as a Category Five system. The death toll is expected to rise sharply as relief and support teams get greater access to Grand Bahama and Abaco which suffered the greatest battering from the hurricane.
Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, who met with the troops at the Norman Manley International Airport ahead of the departure, expressed gratitude to the Canadian Government for facilitating the deployment of the JDF Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to the Bahamas.
“This is now the second time that the Governments of Jamaica and Canada and the defence forces of both countries have worked together to provide airlift for the Disaster Assistance Response Team,” he said, noting the airlift support provided for deployment of the JDF to Dominica in the aftermath of hurricane in 2017.
An advance group left on a Coast Guard craft earlier this week, with supplies for the team as well as to contribute to the Bahamas relief.
The Prime Minister said that the JDF is prepared to assist in any area that the Bahamian Government may require but in the initial stages, the focus will be on recovery, search and rescue, logistics, medical assistance and any emergency engineering needs.
Also at the airport were Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Kamina Johnson Smith; Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Rocky Meade, and Canadian Defence Attaché to the West Indies, Col. Jacques O’Keefe.