Canada increases donations to quake-ravaged Haiti

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Saturday that the government has lifted the ceiling on the amount of money allocated for matching individual donations to Haitian earthquake relief.

"My latest figures are that more than 67 million (Canadian) dollars (63.4 U.S. dollars) has been donated to eligible aid organizations, with 45 million dollars to the Canadian Red Cross alone, in order to alleviate the suffering in the earthquake-ravaged country," Harper told a press conference.

The Canadian government had set aside 50 million Canadian dollars in its dollar-for-dollar fund, but Harper said the government has decided to remove the cap, as individual donations were increasing.

On Jan. 14, Oda announced the creation of the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, through which the government will match the contributions of individual Canadians to eligible registered Canadian charitable organizations in support of humanitarian and recovery efforts in Haiti.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will allocate these funds to Canadian and international humanitarian and development organizations for relief efforts in Haiti.

In addition to the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, CIDA is providing 85 million (80.4 million U.S. dollars) in urgent humanitarian assistance and in response to appeals from UN agencies, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Canadian organizations.

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12 has reduced much of Haiti to rubble and killed an estimated 200,000 people, according to official figures.

In the devastating quake, 17 Canadians have been confirmed dead, said Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon at the press conference, adding that he expected the number of deaths involving Canadians to increase.

The number of Canadians still unaccounted for in affected areas dropped to 236, he said.

According to Cannon, a total of 2,156 Canadians have been evacuated to Canada, while some 190 Canadians were still at the Canadian embassy in the Haitian capital, awaiting evacuation.

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