Canada to dispatch warships to Haiti amid ongoing unrest

Haitian security forces have struggled to contend with gangs that have taken control of large swathes of the capital city, Port-au-Prince. (Photo: Odelyn Joseph/AP/File)

Canada will dispatch naval warships to the coast of Haiti to collect intelligence as the Caribbean nation continues to struggle with economic and political instability and violence, most of which is fueled by organized crime.

Thursday in the Bahamas, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision to Caribbean leaders. Powerful armed gangs operating in the country, resulting in widespread reports of murder, kidnapping, and sexual violence, were among the themes they examined.

"Currently, Haiti faces unrelenting gang violence, political turmoil, and corruption," stated Trudeau. It is time to tackle the gravity of this issue as a community.

The Canadian leader did not indicate how many ships would participate or how long their mission would last. The statement was made at the 15-member Caribbean trade bloc CARICOM meeting.

Haitian politicians, including Prime Minister Ariel Henry, have repeatedly requested military aid from the international community to halt the rising violence.

Nonetheless, other Haitians have opposed these requests, given the country's long and complex history of foreign intrusion.

Last Friday, United Nations human rights official Volker Turk asked for an international force to assist in ending the "living nightmare" on the island.

Since the assassination of former President of Haiti Jovenel Moise in July 2021, the influence of Haiti's gangs has increased. The United Nations assessed in December that 60% of Port-au-Prince was under gang control.

Beginning in September of last year, a formidable gang coalition known as the G9 Family and Allies blocked a critical gasoline terminal in the capital for more than a month, virtually closing down the business for most of the city and triggering a humanitarian crisis.

During the blockade, Haiti recorded its first case of cholera in nearly three years, as garbage piled up and clean water became scarcer. Since then, infection rates have skyrocketed.

The violence has created intolerable conditions for many Haitians, prompting them to seek safety abroad.

In January, the United States introduced new guidelines allowing up to 30,000 people per month from Nicaragua, Haiti, Venezuela, and Cuba to enter the country, provided they complete a stringent set of standards, including intensive screening. Under the new policy, however, Haitians attempting to enter the United States through Mexico would be denied entry.

The United Nations has warned nations not to return refugees and migrants to Haiti due to the difficult situation there.

Trudeau emphasized to CARICOM on Thursday that Haiti's suffering "weighs heavily" on him. In addition, he offered $9.1 million in humanitarian aid and $7.4 million to help protect Haitian women and children along the border with the Dominican Republic.

Despite worldwide outrage, tens of thousands of Haitians and persons of Haitian heritage were deported from the Dominican Republic during the past year.

Both Canada and the United States have previously provided military equipment to the government of Haiti and placed sanctions on persons accused of corruption or criminal ties in Haiti.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced additional sanctions against "five individuals and seven family members" with ties to criminal gangs that "threatened the livelihoods of the Haitian people and are obstructing life-saving humanitarian aid."

Premier Henry of Haiti even stated that the United States and Canada might spearhead the proposed international intervention. Yet, neither nation has offered to lead this army.

Publish : 2023-02-17 09:59:00

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