Fate of Filipino peacekeepers uncertain after Haiti quake

January 13th, 2010 - 7:10 pm ICT by BNO News  

Haiti Earthquake pictures MANILA (BNO NEWS) — The fate of some Filipino peacekeepers remained uncertain on Wednesday, a day after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed much of Haiti’s capital. Thousands are feared dead.

According to the Filipino Department of Foreign Affairs, the country’s peacekeepers were among the first to rush to the headquarters of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and take part in rescue efforts after the building had collapsed during the quake.

The Philippine Mission to the United Nations said that it was informed by the UN that members of the 10th Philippine Peacekeeping Contingent under Lt. Col. Lope Dagoy are assisting in the search for an undetermined number of UN personnel who were in the building when it collapsed.

The Philippine Mission said it could not determine at this point if there were any casualties among members of the Philippine military and police contingents as well as UN civilian staff members serving with MINUSTAH as power and communications line have been cut off. It said it could not account for all of Filipino peacekeeping personnel as its only source of information was UN Headquarters in New York which was only able to establish contact with MINUSTAH officials via satellite phones.

However, it said that Lieutenant Colonel Dagoy was able to contact his wife via satellite phone and asked her to relay to the Peacekeeping Operations Center of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that he was trying to account for all members of the contingent. While he did not mention any casualties or damage to the Philippine headquarters, he said contingent members were forced to vacate the building after the area was hit by a series of aftershocks.

The Philippine Mission said Sr. Supt. Rodolfo Fuentes, commander of the Philippine police contingent, was also able to establish contact through internet and said he and several other peacekeepers were safe in the UN Logistics Base near the Port-au-Prince International Airport.

There are currently 157 officers and enlisted personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and 15 officers from the Philippine National Police (PNP) serving with MINUSTAH. There are also an undetermined number of Filipino civilian staff working with the UN.

Aside from the peacekeepers, there are some 447 Filipinos working in the garments, telecommunication and power sectors in the country, mostly in middle and upper management levels. There are also Filipino nuns and priests in Haiti.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has sent instructions to the Philippine Mission in New York, as well as the Philippine Embassy in Havana, Cuba, to check on the conditions of the members of the Filipino community in Haiti.

The Philippine Mission in New York will coordinate with the United Nations on the extension of assistance to them, as well as to the Haiti Government and people.

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