Jan 072014

A Filipino soldier takes a break beside relief goods at the Tacloban airport, in central Philippines on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Canada’s more than 300 humanitarian relief personnel have pulled out of the country following the completion of their aid mission in areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan).

Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) deployed in Panay Island officially wrapped up its humanitarian assistance mission last December 16 followed by the batch by batch departure of 315 Canadian Air Force (CAF) personnel up to the last week of December.

Based in Roxas City, DART treated more than 6,500 patients, cleared over 130 kilometers of road, and delivered almost 500,000 liters of purified water and more than 230,000 pounds of food, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement Tuesday.

“The DART is a multidisciplinary military organization designed to deploy on short notice anywhere in the world in response to situations ranging from natural disasters to complex humanitarian emergencies,” DFA said.

“This was the first time that Canada has engaged in this type of humanitarian action in the country,” it said.

More than 10,000 pounds of building materials for homes were also brought by the DART to help residents on Panay Island in rebuilding shelters.

Helping the DART throughout their humanitarian relief mission were more than a dozen Filipino-Canadians who served as liaison officers since they knew how to converse with the locals in Filipino.

“As such, they provided vital links between local authorities, international aid agencies and CAF members; a unique opportunity for members of the Filipino community, one of the largest migrant communities in Canada, to give assistance to their kababayans on the ground in disaster-struck areas,” DFA said.

“In consultation with local and national authorities, it was determined that services in communities within the DART’s mission-scope are restored to pre-Yolanda levels, completing the DART’s mission in the Philippines,” it said.

According to the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub website, Canada pledged over $40 million in both cash and non-cash aid.

More than 852,000 Filipinos are in Canada, according to 2012 estimates of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

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