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Canada to send warships to Haiti over gang violence

February 17, 2023

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the surveillance mission amid a surge in killings, rapes and kidnappings in Haiti.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking at Caricom meeting; behind him are Canadian officials Emina Tudakovic and Greg Fergus
Trudeau said vessels will not be used to intercept Haitian migrantsImage: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/AP/picture alliance

Canada will send navy vessels to Haiti for intelligence-gathering, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

The move is part of efforts to fight gang violence in Haiti.

What Trudeau said about Haiti

Trudeau made the announcement in the Bahamas at the annual meeting of the Caricom trading bloc, which includes 15 countries in the Caribbean.

"Right now, Haiti is confronted with unrelenting gang violence, political turmoil and corruption," Trudeau said. "Now is the moment to come together to confront the severity of this situation."

Trudeau said Canada and Haiti's neighbors need to find long-lasting solutions to restore security and allow for the flow of essential aid.

The Canadian prime minister said Ottawa was imposing sanctions on former interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert and ex-political aide Salim Succar, who have been accused of being linked to gangs. 15 other Haitians are already barred from making economic dealings in Canada.

Trudeau said that Canada would give an additional $12.3 million (€11.5 million) in humanitarian assistance and $10 million for the protection of Haitian women and children along Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic.

What is the current situation in Haiti?

A major topic of discussion at the Caricom meeting has been a surge in killings, rapes and kidnappings committed by gangs in Haiti. Organized crime has been emboldened in the country since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has appealed for an international military intervention to stem the violence. Haiti requested help from the UN Security Council in October.

The number of reported killings in Haiti last year increased 35% to 2,183 victims, according to the UN. The number of reported kidnappings more than doubled, reaching 1,359 victims.

A report last month from the UN Integrated Office in Haiti said that "gang-related violence reached levels not seen in decades" in Haiti.

sdi/rt (AP, Reuters)