SAN JUAN (AP) — Canada will send navy ships to Haiti to collect intelligence as part of efforts to quell escalating gang violence in the Caribbean country, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday.
Trudeau made the announcement in the Bahamas during the annual meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), where the main topic has been the increase in murders, rapes and kidnappings in Haiti attributed to the gangs that have grown more powerful since the president’s assassination. Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.RELATED
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who also attended the meeting, has called for full international military intervention to stem the chaos. His country asked the UN Security Council for help in October, and has asked the United States and Canada to lead the effort. No joint intervention has taken place, and no country has offered to take the initiative.
Canada’s decision to send ships, announced at a meeting of the leaders of the 15-member trading bloc, comes shortly after the return of one of its surveillance planes on a similar mission to gather information for Haitian police.
“Right now, Haiti is facing unrelenting gang violence, political turbulence and corruption,” Trudeau said. “Now is the time to come together to face the gravity of the situation.”
He added that Canada and Haiti’s neighbors must work together to find long-term solutions to help restore order and security, enable the delivery of essential aid and create the conditions for free and fair elections.
Trudeau announced that his government will invest an additional 12.3 million dollars in humanitarian aid and another 10 million to support the International Office for Migration in the protection of Haitian women and children on the border with the Dominican Republic, which last year deported dozens of of thousands of Haitian migrants and people of Haitian descent.
“The cost of human suffering in Haiti weighs heavily on me,” Trudeau said.
Hours earlier, Trudeau met privately with Henry, who told reporters that he wants to hold elections urgently despite the insecurity.
The number of reported homicides in Haiti last year rose 35% to 2,183, while the number of reported kidnappings more than doubled to 1,359 victims, according to the UN.
A report issued last month by the UN Integrated Office in Haiti noted that “gang-related violence has reached levels not seen in decades,” adding that tens of thousands of people have been displaced by conflicts between gangs.
Canada and the United States, among other countries, have already provided military equipment and other resources, along with training, to the Haitian National Police, which has just 9,700 officers serving a country of more than 11 million people. Gangs control about 60% of the capital Port-au-Prince.
Trudeau also pledged to provide $1.8 million to fight drug trafficking and strengthen border and maritime security in the Caribbean.
In addition, Trudeau pointed out that his government will allocate 44.8 million dollars to help the Caribbean fight against climate change.
The CARICOM meeting started on Wednesday and is scheduled to conclude on Friday.