Canada UN ambassador to attend emergency meeting about crisis in Haiti

Click to play video: 'Haiti declares state of emergency after gang violence overwhelms capital'
Haiti declares state of emergency after gang violence overwhelms capital
Haiti has declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in response to a deadly surge of gang violence overwhelming its capital, Port-au-Prince. Mike Armstrong explains how Kenya is trying to help resolve the crisis, and why some Haitians have doubts about Prime Minister Ariel Henry – Mar 4, 2024

Canada is sending an official to attend an emergency meeting in Jamaica on Monday, following an invite from Caribbean leaders who want to discuss escalating gang violence in Haiti.

A spokesperson for the office of Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, will attend the meeting.

Rae, who is travelling, was not available for a comment on Sunday.

Caricom, the 15-nation Caribbean bloc, said in a statement late Friday that “the situation on the ground remains dire” in Haiti. The Caribbean leaders have also invited the United States, France, the United Nations and Brazil to the meeting.

Unrelenting gang attacks have paralyzed Haiti for more than a week and left it with dwindling supplies of basic goods. Haitian officials extended a state of emergency and nightly curfew on Thursday as gangs continued to attack key state institutions.

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Global Affairs Canada confirmed with Global News Sunday that there are currently 2,904 Canadians in Haiti registered with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.

“The Government of Canada is not planning any departure assistance or repatriation flights for Canadians in Haiti. However, we continue to monitor and assess the security situation very closely,” an email from Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Marilyne Guèvremont said.

Members of the Caricom regional trade bloc have been trying for months to get political actors in Haiti to agree to form an umbrella transitional unity government. But average Haitians, many of whom have been forced from their homes by the bloody street fighting, can’t wait. The problem for police in securing government buildings is that many Haitians have streamed into them, seeking refuge.

Caricom said Friday that while regional leaders remain deeply engaged in trying to bring opposition parties and civil society groups together to form a unity government, “the stakeholders are not yet where they need to be.”

“We are acutely aware of the urgent need for consensus to be reached,” the statement said.

“We have impressed on the respective parties that time is not on their side in agreeing to the way forward. From our reports, the situation on the ground remains dire and is of serious concern to us.”

Joly issued a statement Friday on her social media accounts saying Canada strongly condemns the abuses being committed by armed gangs in Haiti.

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“Canada will continue to support Haitian-led solutions to the political, security and humanitarian crises. All Haitian stakeholders, including the government and Haitian civil society must be fully engaged in the search and implementation of these solutions,” she said.

Canada pledged $80.5 million last month toward a Kenya-led multinational security mission intended to support Haitian National Police. The bulk of it, $27.1 million, will go to the United Nations Office for Project Support to buy personal protective equipment, vehicles and logistical and communications equipment for the force.

Joly said she remains in regular contact with her counterparts from Caricom, adding they will take steps to support “inclusive political dialogue” and improve the security situation in Haiti.

In February, embattled Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreed to hold general elections by mid-2025, and the international community has tried to find some foreign armed force willing to fight gang violence there.

Caricom has also pushed Henry to announce a power-sharing, consensus government in the meantime, but the prime minister has yet to do so even as Haitian opposition parties and civil society groups are demanding his resignation.

Henry, a neurosurgeon, was appointed as Haiti’s prime minister after the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

It was unclear whether Henry would be in Jamaica for the CARICOM meeting.

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–with files from Global News.

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