Canada 'carefully considers' application for aid from Haiti

The Caribbean nation faces a fuel terminal gang blockade, shortages, high crime and a cholera epidemic As Haiti is rapidly turning into chaos, a top Haitian diplomat has called on Canada and the United States to form an attack force to confront the gangs that are creating a humanitarian crisis in the Caribbean nation. Both countries must take the lead in dealing with Haitian gangs who have blocked access to a major fuel terminal, Haiti's ambassador to the US said Monday. "We want to see our neighbors like the United States, like Canada, take the lead and move quickly," said Bocchit Edmond, referring to providing security assistance.

"There is a very big threat to the prime minister's head [Ariel Henry]. If nothing is done quickly, there is a risk of another head of state [killed] in Haiti," he said, referring to the 2021 assassination of then president Jovenel Moïse. Weaknesses, protests, gunfights Acute shortages of gasoline and diesel have crippled transport and forced businesses and hospitals to halt operations, even as the country faces a new cholera outbreak that has killed at least 18 people. In addition, demonstrators have blocked roads in the capital and other major cities to demand Henry's resignation and protest the rise in fuel prices after the prime minister announced in early September that his government could no longer afford to subsidize fuel. 

Gas stations and schools remain closed; banks and grocery stores operate on a limited schedule; and sporadic looting and gunfights between gangs and police became more frequent. In response to the chaos, Henry last week called on the international community to provide "special armed forces" to control the gangs that have blocked the Varreux fuel terminal since last month. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has proposed that one or more countries send "rapid action forces" to assist the Haitian police, according to a letter to the UN Security Council. Guterres did not recommend that the troops be deployed by the United Nations.

Canada expresses concern 

So far, Canada has only said it is "carefully considering" Henry's appeal in consultation with "Haitian authorities and our international partners." On Monday, Global Affairs Canada said it was deeply concerned about the impact of armed gang activity which had reached "unprecedented levels." Last Friday, Canada's foreign ministry said the 19 member states of the Organization of American States were committed to helping Haitians "address the complex security challenges facing the country."

CBC News contacted Global Affairs Canada Wednesday at noon for a timeline of when a decision could be reached, and did not receive an immediate reply. Meanwhile, the United States on Wednesday said it would increase support for Haitian police and would speed up aid deliveries. The State Department has also created new visa restrictions targeting those who support gangs and has sent coast guard ships to patrol Haitian waters.

The US official who briefed reporters on Washington's response did not offer to send troops to the island. "We are ... working to increase and deploy security assistance to the Haitian National Police in the coming days to strengthen their capacity to fight gangs and rebuild a stable security environment," Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said. "We will expedite the delivery of additional humanitarian aid to the Haitian people."

Many Haitians are unhappy with foreign intervention 

Frédéric Boisrond, a Haitian-born sociologist at McGill University in Montreal, says it's not Canada's place to decide what to do. what do they expect, how far do they want to go with a country where this is not a legitimate government, without anyone's power," he said Wednesday. "At this point, I'm even asking myself if Haiti, at this point, is what we call a country."

He said Canada had been trying to give legitimacy to Henry's government, when there were only 10 senators left in the government elected from 149 lawmakers. "Other people who are in charge of the country are not elected, not elected by the citizens of that country." Opponents claim Henry hoped to use foreign troops to maintain his power - a leadership he took last year after Moïse's assassination and many deemed it illegitimate because he was never elected or officially confirmed in legislative office. He has failed to set a date for the election, which has not been held since November 2016, but has vowed to do so once the violence is quelled. Moreover, many Haitians are displeased with the idea of ​​a foreign power, having seen little improvement over the previous three interventions since the beginning of the last century.

"Having the same solution and expecting a different outcome is stupid," Boisrond said. On Sunday, Haitian senators signed a document demanding that Henry's "de facto government" delay his request for foreign troop deployments, saying it was illegal under the law. local laws. Many local leaders reject the idea of ​​UN peacekeepers, noting that they have been accused of sexually assaulting and fueling a cholera epidemic that killed nearly 10,000 people during a 13-year mission in Haiti that ended five years ago.

The possibility of an international armed forces presence is something that bothers Georges Ubin, a 44-year-old accountant, who says he knows people who have fallen victim to peacekeepers and believes foreign intervention will not improve the situation. "Foreign troops are not going to solve the big problem Haiti is having," he said. "It's a problem that's been there since I was born. It never gets better."

'The whole city is under siege'

The letter delivered by the UN Secretary-General on Sunday indicated that the rapid-action force would be phased out as Haitian police regain control of infrastructure, and that two options could follow: member states set up an international police task force to assist and advise local officers. , or creating special forces to help tackle gangs "including through joint strikes, isolation and containment operations across the country." The letter noted that if member states do not "move forward with bilateral support and financing," UN operations

can be an alternative. "However, as pointed out, returning to UN peacekeeping is not the preferred option for the authorities," he said. However, not everyone was against the arrival of the troops. Allens Hemest, 35, hopes to see them soon. The unemployed man said he recently worked at a factory that produced plastic cups but it closed amid the crisis. "The whole city is under siege," he said, referring to the capital Port-au-Prince. "If this is going to bring peace, I support it. We can't go on living like this."

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