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Friday, June 3, 2016

Refugee Crisis - A Call for the RCN to Help

In a letter to the editor in today's National Post full comment section,  Ernest Seidman of Cote St. Luc, Quebec asked a question many people are asking - why are children still drowning and why isn't our Navy doing anything about it?

Here is Ernest's letter:

Re: Why Are Children Still Drowning? May 31.
As a pediatrician, I share my sense of horror and despair with my fellow Canadians asking, “Why are children still drowning”? Hundreds of refugees from Syria and Africa are so desperately seeking asylum that they are drowning offshore in dinghies and other ill-equipped boats. The images of this relentless and horrific loss of life of children and their families evoke emotions of helplessness and gloom across our nation. Many Canadians feel betrayed by the lack of our government’s effective and affirmative action. We can and must do more. What can we do?

Because of long-term cutbacks in equipment to modernize our fleet, the Royal Canadian Navy has been down-classified to a Rank 5 navy (offshore regional coastal defence) on the Todd-Lindberg classification system, from Rank 3 (multiregional power projection). In other words, our navy is no longer equipped to wage war. However, we can and should transport these refugees,using our naval boats, under the guidance of a well trained naval corps.
-- Ernest Seidman, Cote St. Luc, Que.

I second Ernest's call - and I did so back in September 2015 when the image of Alan Kurdi was front-page news around the globe. You can read my article "Refugee Crisis; the CAF can help - Deploy them!" here on my blog. It was originally published September 4, 2015. (If the link is broken at any point; find it in the Blog Archive)

The Royal Canadian Navy is currently operating in the Mediterranean as part of OP REASSURANCE. HMCS Fredericton joined Standing NATO Maritime Forces on 8 January 2016 as part of Operation REASSURANCE, Canada’s support to NATO assurance measures in Central and Eastern Europe. The ship joins Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). HMCS Fredericton replaced HMCS Winnipeg which concluded a six-month operational deployment.

Black Sea. 5 April 2016 – Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) FREDERICTON performs a PASEX with the Bulgarian Frigate, BGS RESHITELNI (F13) and the Romanian Frigate, ROS REGINA MARIA, during a patrol in the Black Sea during Operation Reassurance. (Photo: Master Corporal Sebastian Allain, HMCS FREDERICTON Air Detachment)
Black Sea. 5 April 2016 – Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) FREDERICTON performs a PASEX with the Bulgarian Frigate, BGS RESHITELNI (F13) and the Romanian Frigate, ROS REGINA MARIA, during a patrol in the Black Sea during Operation Reassurance. (Photo: Master Corporal Sebastian Allain, HMCS FREDERICTON Air Detachment)
HMCS Fredericton is a Halifax-class frigate with a crew of approximately 250 personnel of all ranks, including a CH-124 Sea King helicopter and air detachment.

While patrolling and "putting Russia in it's place" is great and all - children are dying. The 250 member crew of HMCS Fredericton can help the asylum seekers from Syria and North Africa.

The Liberal Government should adapt the mandate of the Royal Canadian Navy vessels in the Mediterranean to help. This would also help reduce the stress the Italian and Greek Navy and Coast Guard currently faces with this crisis.