The Brazilian Foreign minister, Celso Amorim, confirmed today that Brazil will send US$ 15 million to help rebuild Haiti. The country was devastated by an earthquake, which left at least 12 Brazilians killed, including the coordinator of Brazil’s Pastoral of the Child, doctor Zilda Arns.
There are over 1,300 Brazilians working in Haiti, most of them in the UN’s Peace Mission, trying to restore order in the country that was ravaged by civil war. According to Amorim, the Brazilian embassy was seriously affected by the earthquake, but no one there was hurt.
“Our embassy was badly damaged, but there was no victim,” he told reporters. “At the time of the earthquake all employees took shelter in a Brazilian cultural center, which was close to the site.”
The minister also guaranteed that Brazil will not withdraw troops from the region. For him, this is the time to reorganize the UN contingent that is led by the Brazilians.
For this, Brazil’s Defense minister, Nelson Jobim has traveled to Haiti. “If it were a civil war as happened in Lebanon, we might think about withdrawing. But this is a different situation,” added Amorim.
According to him, Roseana Teresa Aben-Athar, wife of the Brazil’s ambassador to Haiti, with the help of Brazilian troops, located the body of Dr. Zilda Arns, 75, the coordinator of the Pastoral of the Child. The legendary pediatrician was in Haiti for a lecture.
Besides the Justice minister, the Brazilian delegation sent to Haiti Navy commander, Admiral Julio Soares de Moura Neto; Army commander, General Enzo Martins Peri, the executive secretary of the Secretariat of Human Rights, Rogério Sottili, and senator Flávio Arns (PSDB-Paraná), nephew of Zilda Arns, and representatives of the Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs and the CNBB (National Conference of Brazilian Bishops).
Before leaving, Jobim said the biggest difficulty is the distribution of food coming to the people of Haiti. “We will check the local conditions and see how the engineering company in the Peace Corps can help in the work of clearing the roads,” said the minister.
He said that with the quake, the country’s streets and roads were blocked or destroyed, which prevents the movement of food and other supplies, as well as of emergency equipment.
The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) announced that eight of its transport planes will be used in the relief efforts.
The Communication Center of the Army confirmed the death of seven more soldiers. Now comes to 11 the number of Brazilian troops killed by the earthquake. Nine others were injured and seven are still missing.
The dead soldiers are 1st Lieutenant Bruno Ribeiro Mario, 2nd Sergeant David Ramos de Lima, 2nd Sergeant Leonardo de Castro Carvalho; Corporal Douglas Pedrotti Neckel, Corporal Washington Luis de Souza Seraphin, Soldier James Anaya Detimermani and Soldier José Antonio Anacleto, all from the 5th Battalion of Light Infantry, based in Lorena in the interior of São Paulo.
Corporal Ari Dirceu Fernandes Jr and Soldier Kleber da Silva Santos, from the 2nd Battalion of Light Infantry, based in Santos, São Paulo.
Sub Lieutenant Raniel Batista de Camargos from the 37th Battalion of Light Infantry, based in Lins, São Paulo.
Colonel Emilio Carlos Torres dos Santos, from the Office of the Commander of the Army, based in Brazilian capital Brasília.
Last night the Brazilian Ministry of Defense sent a message to the Brazilian soldiers who are in Haiti as part of a United Nations stabilization force. There were 1,266 Brazilian soldiers in the country and 250 of them are in an engineering unit. They have been ordered to offer whatever assistance they can.
Along with their peacekeeping tasks, Brazilian forces in Haiti have already provided humanitarian aid to that country on several occasions after a series of hurricanes battered Haiti between 2004 and 2008.
Haiti went through severe political upheaval over the last decade with the result that there is a United Nations peacekeeping/stabilization force in the country led by Brazil.
It is reported that the Brazilian embassy was badly damaged, as well as the headquarters of the UN mission and other installations where the Brazilian soldiers are housed.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva expressed concern for the people of Haiti and the Brazilians in that country. He declared that Brazil will provide all the assistance that is needed.
At the Foreign Ministry, Itamaraty, a crisis room has been set up to operate 24/7 under the coordination of ambassador Marcos Vinicius Pinta Gama. Information on Brazilian citizens in Haiti can be obtained by telephone at (061) 3411-8803 or 3411-8805 or 3411-8808.