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Canada sends delegation to Haiti to ‘assess’ security crisis

Canada sent a team to Haiti to assess the country’s deteriorating security situation and humanitarian crisis, while the United States continues to promote an initiative to send an international armed force to the Caribbean nation.

In a statement Thursday, Canada’s foreign affairs department said a government delegation was in Haiti “to consult with stakeholders on options to help the Haitian people resolve security and humanitarian crises.”

The delegation, called an “assessment mission,” is also considering “how Canada can contribute to the international response,” the statement continued.

“Canada and the international community are concerned about the violence in Haiti, particularly against women and girls. Canada will not stand by while gangs and their supporters terrorize the citizens of Haiti and we will continue to stand with law-abiding Haitians to end the crisis in their country,” said Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.

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The announcement comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes his first official trip to Canada for talks with Joly and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Haiti, which has seen a rise in gang violence and political instability since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July last year, is expected to be one of the main topics of discussion during Blinken’s visit to Ottawa and Montreal. this week.

Earlier this month, Haiti’s interim prime minister, Ariel Henry, called on the international community to help establish a “specialized armed force” to quell the violence.

An ongoing gang blockade of a key gasoline terminal in the capital, Port-au-Prince, has led to severe fuel and water shortages, while violence is rampant. Hospitals have been forced to cut services due to a lack of electricity, which is also complicating the response to a new cholera outbreak.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said this month that he believed “armed action” was necessary to ease gangs’ control of the fuel terminal and establish a humanitarian corridor to get supplies out. Guterres had also urged the international community to respond urgently to Henry’s request for assistance.

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But many Haitian protesters and civil society leaders have rejected the prospect of international intervention, saying history has shown that foreign forces bring “more problems than solutions.”

Some Haitians also say that Henry lacks legitimacy and have called for his resignation. Henry was chosen by Moise to take over as prime minister shortly before the president was assassinated last year, and Henry has the backing of the CORE Group, which includes Canada and the United States.

Last week, the UN Security Council passed a resolution establishing a “sanctions regime” against Haitian gang leaders, including Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, and their backers.

The initiative, spearheaded by the US and Mexico, came in response to a call by Haitians to “take action against criminal actors, including gangs and their financiers, who have been undermining stability and increasing poverty in their country.” vibrant society,” said the US UN envoy, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Meanwhile, the US and Mexico are working on another resolution to establish “a non-UN international security assistance mission” in Haiti to respond to crises. Thomas-Greenfield said in mid-October that the mission would be led by “a partner country,” without elaborating.

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Earlier this week, the Miami Herald newspaper, citing unnamed sources, reported that the draft resolution was “on the verge of failure after no country volunteered to contribute troops.”

But that was challenged by Brian Nichols, the US assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, who told reporters during a briefing on Wednesday that he was “very optimistic” that countries could come together around the resolution. .

“I totally disagree with the idea that a resolution authorizing a multinational force is in danger,” he said, according to the AFP news agency. Nichols added that “several countries” have the capacity to lead a mission, but that a decision has not yet been made.

“Among those countries is Canada, but it’s not the only country that can do that,” he said.

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On October 15, Canada and the US announced that they had sent security equipment to Haiti already purchased by the country, “including tactical and armored vehicles,” in an effort to bolster the Haitian National Police (HNP).

In its statement on Thursday, Canada’s foreign affairs department said “the international community has an important role to play in responding to the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis in Haiti, and Canada believes strongly in helping Haitians find a lasting solution”.

He added that the Canadian government delegation was consulting with “regional partners, the United Nations, CARICOM [the Caribbean Community]” and others.

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