Carrington said efforts were still being made to locate the four persons attending the Caricom Aviation and Safety Oversight System meeting at the Montana Hotel. The hotel was often used by Caricom.
“Efforts to locate survivors in the rubble of the Montana Hotel are ongoing. Our hopes and prayers go out to the families of these missing persons,” Carrington said.
The teleconferencing took place at the old Fire Station building on Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain.
A committee comprising countries and agencies which participated in the international donor meeting in the Dominican Republic last Monday will meet in Montreal, Canada on Monday to develop a strategic plan for the full reconstruction of Haiti.
Carrington said the plan will go beyond emergency assistance and must contribute to strengthening the viability and political, economic, social stability of Haiti “in the medium to long-term”.
He said Caricom will have to refocus priorities, resources and programmes in the aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake which devastated Haiti and claimed over 75,000 lives. He said Caricom was trying to put its “best foot forward” in responding to the disaster.
Carrington said there was “the customary rash of criticism” of Caricom and these were neither useful, informed or constructive.
Seeking to clarify Caricom’s role in Haiti, Carrington said “the core areas” of the response were search and rescue, relief, recovery and reconstruction.
He said the most challenging was the first phase given the human suffering and chaos. While acknowledging the importance of moving in a timely manner, Carrington said even the most prepared and equipped still took time to mobilise and “put together their designated response agencies to establish coordination mechanisms on the ground”.
Carrington said Caricom alone could not have responded to the disaster because it was too large for anyone including the US to respond alone. He said Caricom through governments and civil society was in the process of making a contribution.
“Sometimes people forget that Haiti is nine million people. Caricom together makes six (million).” Carrington provided a detailed chronology of Caricom’s “multi-pronged response” after the earthquake.
Among other things, he said on Wednesday Caricom issued a statement indicating that it was monitoring the situation and moving quickly to mobilise its emergency response systems and Jamaica, the focal point for the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) sent a contingent from its Defence Force and medical personnel with supplies and materials. A field medical facility was established. A CDEMA Tactical Advance Team was able to get into Haiti on January 17.