U.S. and Canadian military aircraft on Saturday delivered tactical and armored vehicles and other supplies to the Haitian National Police (HNP) to help combat criminal gangs that have worsened a humanitarian crisis in Haiti.
“This equipment will assist the HNP in their fight against criminal actors who are fomenting violence and disrupting the flow of critically needed humanitarian assistance, hindering efforts to halt the spread of cholera,” the U.S. and Canadian governments said in a joint statement.
In a statement posted online, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the equipment will be used to fight against violent criminal gangs and help improve security.
“Our two countries remain committed to supporting the Haitian National Police’s work of protecting and serving the people of Haiti. And together, we’ll continue to support the restoration of security in Haiti,” his statement said.
The equipment arrived more than a month after one of Haiti’s most powerful gangs surrounded a fuel terminal and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
Haitians are experiencing catastrophic hunger because of gangsters blockading a major fuel terminal, U.N. officials said on Friday, with more than 4 million facing acute food insecurity.
A coalition of gangs has prevented the distribution of diesel and gasoline for over a month to protest a plan to cut fuel subsidies. Most transport is halted, with looting and gang shootouts becoming increasingly common.
The U.N. Security Council is considering creating a sanctions regime to impose an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo on anyone who threatens the peace, security or stability of Haiti, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Thursday.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has proposed that one or several countries send “a rapid action force” to help Haiti’s police remove a threat posed by the gangs, according to a letter to the Security Council, seen by Reuters.
The U.S. and Mexico-drafted resolution would take note of Guterres’ letter and encourage “the immediate deployment of a multinational rapid action force to support the HNP, as recommended in the Secretary-General’s letter.”
The 15-member Security Council could vote as early as Monday on the draft resolution, diplomats said. To be adopted a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by permanent members Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain.
(Reporting By Matt Spetalnick and Michelle Nichols; With files from The Canadian Press)