GDF soldiers participate in Haiti relief efforts


Two soldiers of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) recently returned from earthquake shattered Haiti as part of the Caribbean Disaster Relief Unit ‘s (CDRU) efforts in helping to bring relief to the nation. The soldiers, Sergeant Leon Martin of the Defence Operations Centre and Corporal Eion Junor, a carpenter of the 4 Engineer Battalion, were sent to Haiti on January 20 , following the activation of the CDRU, an organ of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

The CDRU comprises personnel from the defence and police forces of the region who fill various appointments that are rotated annually.  Personnel assembled in April and after undergoing collective training are on call in their respective countries.  The Unit was deployed to Haiti shortly after the earthquake.

Martin’s specific duties entailed the setting up of the Operational Centre at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport  while Junor  participated in the building of tents and other accommodation for the members of the Caribbean military contingent on the ground.

Both soldiers spent three weeks in Haiti .

While there the soldiers said they also engaged in the distribution of food supplies to persons who were forced to flee their homes in Port- au – Prince after the earthquake hit on January 12.

Leogane , Fonds Verettes, Monville , and Cil`eque are some of the cities where the soldiers engaged in food distribution.

The soldiers recounted the level of destruction to the country’s infrastructure as well as the conditions under which its people are now forced to survive. They confirmed the images made available daily by international media but called the experience a rewarding one which has forced them to be more appreciative of life.

Both soldiers spoke too of the desperate measures which some Haitian’s turned to in search of a meal and remembered one instance where they charged towards a vehicle containing food items forcing it to return to the make- shift barracks.

CARICOM heads are currently mulling the deployment of a contingent to supplement the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), who was deployed to Haiti shortly after the earthquake.