Canada sends long-range patrol aircraft to support Haiti as gang violence escalates

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says Canada and its partners have discussed various scenarios should situation worsen in Haiti'
Trudeau says Canada and its partners have discussed various scenarios should situation worsen in Haiti
During a news conference wrapping up the 'Three Amigos' summit in Mexico, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked if there is a possibility that Canada would lead a military mission in that country. "We're all very aware that things could get worse in Haiti and that's why Canada and partners including the United States are preparing various scenarios," Trudeau said – Jan 11, 2023

Canada has deployed a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft in response to Haiti’s request for support in an ongoing gang crisis in Haiti, the Department of National Defence announced in a statement Sunday.

The aircraft can be used for multiple types of missions over land and water, the statement said. Missions can include management, maritime and overland intelligence, search and rescue, surveillance and reconnaissance, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, strike coordination and combat illegal activities, they added.

“This Canadian patrol aircraft will provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability to bolster efforts to establish and maintain peace and security for the people of Haiti,” according to the statement. The aircraft is currently operating over Haiti and will remain in the region for a number of days.

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National Defence Minister Anita Anand said Canada is committed to supporting Haitians and “peace and security in the country.”

“The deployment of a Canadian patrol aircraft will strengthen efforts to fight criminal acts of violence and to establish the conditions necessary for a peaceful and prosperous future,” Anand said in the statement.

“I thank all members of the Canadian Armed Forces involved in this mission for their service and dedication to global stability.”

Click to play video: '‘Haiti Betrayed’ looks at impact of Canadian foreign policy'
‘Haiti Betrayed’ looks at impact of Canadian foreign policy

Haiti has been dealing with increasing gang-related violence and “a badly struggling national police force” as a result of the devastating 2010 earthquake, Helen La Lime, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti said last month.

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In addition, the 2021 assassination of former Haitian president Jovenel Moïse worsened the political climate in the country, with the situation escalating severely in September 2022 when Haitian gangs blocked a gas depot that resulted in fuel shortages.

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In 2022, United Nations reported 2,084 murders, 1,552 injuries and 1,114 cases of kidnapping as a result of gang violence in Haiti.

Click to play video: 'Haiti police officers block roads, break into main airport to protest officer killings'
Haiti police officers block roads, break into main airport to protest officer killings

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said that Canada is “committed to playing a leadership role” in responding to the current humanitarian and security crisis in Haiti.

“We will continue to support Haitian-led efforts to restore security and build a safer and brighter future for its people,” Joly said in the joint statement.

In October 2022, the Royal Canadian Air Force airlifted armoured vehicles to Haiti in partnership with the U.S. government. This January, it sent additional armoured vehicles in response to the country’s request for assistance, which were purchased by the Haitian government.

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The federal government release on the second shipment did not say which companies made the tanks, how much they cost, or how many were sent.

However, a government official, who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, said there were three tanks, including two of the same model, The Canadian Press reported.

Gang-related violence remains “high in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area,” according to a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report published on Jan. 17.

Besides gang violence, Haiti is also witnessing a spread of Cholera, with 483 reported deaths, 1,742 confirmed cases and 24,232 suspected cases as of Jan. 15, the report stated.

Other than sending armoured vehicles to Haiti, Canada has also sanctioned Haitian gang leaders, as well as elites who provide “illicit financial and operational support to armed gangs.”

— with files The Canadian Press

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