Armoured vehicles from Canada delivered to Haiti as police face off against gangs
Armed gangs have blockaded key infrastructure, including fuel supply
A Canadian military plane delivered armoured and tactical vehicles from Canada to Port-au-Prince on Saturday, in support of Haitian police locked in a conflict with armed gangs.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed Saturday evening that, in a joint operation, U.S. and Canadian air forces helped deliver three Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles and three commercial pattern armoured vehicles. The vehicles were purchased by the Haitian government from a Canadian company.
"This equipment will assist the [Haitian National Police] in their fight against criminal actors who are fomenting violence and disrupting the flow of critically needed humanitarian assistance, hindering efforts to halt the spread of cholera," according to a joint statement issued by top foreign and defence officials on both sides of the border.
Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry recently called for international support to help in a fight against armed criminal gangs. In the past few weeks, the gangs have set up blockades, leading to a crisis in fuel supply.
"We wish to see our neighbours like the United States, like Canada, take the lead and move fast," Bocchit Edmond, Haiti's ambassador to the U.S., said earlier this week.
Henry had called for a "specialized armed force" to help Haitian police counter gangs who have been blocking the Varreux fuel terminal, located north of Port-au-Prince, since last month.
"Canada is closely monitoring the security situation and will continue to support Haitian-led efforts to put an end to the crisis," according to the statement from Global Affairs Canada. "We will continue to help Haiti's citizens. They have shown incredible strength and resilience in the midst of complex challenges in their country."
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An alliance of armed groups known as the "G9 and Family" recently made demands of the Henry government, including an amnesty and cabinet seats. Gang violence in Haiti kills hundreds of civilians each month.
The Herald also reported the U.S. would support a call from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for the creation of a rapid reaction force to help Haitian police.
Demonstrators in Haiti have also blocked access to the capital to demand Henry's resignation amid violence, a cholera outbreak and severe hunger. As well, fuel prices have risen since the government announced a cut to subsidies earlier this fall.
With files from Reuters and The Associated Press