In Haiti, how gangs working together are adding to the ‘uncertainty’ – National

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Gang violence, political strife and social instability in Haiti are facts of life for the people who live there, according to Canada’s ambassador to the country, André François Giroux.

But he says the crisis is intensifying as the gangs do something not often seen before — work together.

“What we’ve seen is [the gangs] working together, coordinating and attacking, targeting some of the key infrastructure, the airport, the port, police commissariat,” Giroux told The West Block host Mercedes Stephenson.

“This is the reality on the ground right now. And, obviously that creates a lot of uncertainty, and for that reason, people are a little more nervous and need to be much more careful.”

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Canada has evacuated some non-essential consulate staff from the embassy in Port-au-Prince, but Giroux stayed behind along some other employees who can’t work remotely.

The ambassador said that means there is still Canadian support for citizens who are in Haiti and embassy resources like food, water and medicine don’t have to be shared as widely among staff.


Click to play video: 'Haitian PM Ariel Henry’s resignation leaves dangerous power vacuum'


Haitian PM Ariel Henry’s resignation leaves dangerous power vacuum


On Monday, unelected Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned after fleeing the country to Puerto Rico amid the political and social turmoil.

Henry rose to power following the assassination of then-president Jovenel Moïse back in 2021.

Henry’s decision came after an urgent meeting of regional partners, including Canada, in Kingston, Jamaica, on Monday — despite facing calls within Haiti to resign for years.

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Under his administration, armed gangs massively grew their wealth, influence and territory, eventually leading Henry to request an international security force in 2022 to stop the unrest. He initially turned to Canada and the United States to request they lead it.


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“That’s not good news for the gangs, as you can imagine,” Giroux said.

Giroux said the gangs have been trying to stop the coming of a potential multinational force, and said some Haitian politicians have “opportunistically” become associates with the gangs.

“[They say] we’re going to create security because we have this alliance with the gangs. And then if you put us in power, we will run the country and restore security,” Giroux said.

“The Haitian people are not fools. They don’t want a government, a country run by by former criminals that are associated with gangs.”


Click to play video: 'Haitian Canadians fear for family back home: ‘Destroy the gangs’'


Haitian Canadians fear for family back home: ‘Destroy the gangs’


On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed the importance of a “Haitian-led” solution to the crisis as the best way to restore stability.

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“The international community has been intervening for 30 years in Haiti and we are still finding ourselves in [an] impossible situation right now,” Trudeau said.

“We’re funding the police, we’re helping with humanitarian aid, but we need to see Haiti’s political class come together and figure out a way to move forward.”


Click to play video: 'Haiti crisis: Trudeau renews call for ‘Haitian-led’ solution to emergency'


Haiti crisis: Trudeau renews call for ‘Haitian-led’ solution to emergency


Canada’s ambassador to the U.N. Bob Rae tells The West Block that the vision for a Haitian-led solution to the crisis first involves establishing an interim governing council that can help restore order until Haiti can choose a new government through an election.

“This rebuild is partly political, partly development and it’s partly security. This is what it’s going to take,” Rae said.

“It has to be seen as a rebuild for Haiti led by Haitians, and I’m really looking forward to working with the new council and with new members of the council who are being named as we speak. And really sitting down and talking with them about what more we can do to be helpful. But we have to learn from the mistakes of the past and make sure we’re creating something sustainable.”

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Click to play video: '‘We need greater effort from the Americans on the export of arms’ to Haiti: Canadian UN Ambassador Bob Rae'


‘We need greater effort from the Americans on the export of arms’ to Haiti: Canadian UN Ambassador Bob Rae


Last year, U.S. President Joe Biden pushed Canada to lead a multinational force to restore order in Haiti, but Canada declined.

Instead, Canada is leading an effort to better train Haitian police officers, but much of this is happening in a third country.

Giroux defended the move, saying it’s borne out of necessity.

“There’s merit to do it in the third location so that trainees can really focus on their training. I can assure you that when the conditions are there, we will be doing training in Port-au-Prince as well,” he said.


Click to play video: 'Haiti leadership transition proposal faces rejection from multiple parties'


Haiti leadership transition proposal faces rejection from multiple parties


According to Global Affairs Canada (GAC), there are about 3,000 Canadians registered in Haiti. People on the ground are being advised either to leave the country or shelter in place when possible and keep a low profile if they have to go out.

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Giroux said the GAC advisory against travelling to Haiti has been in place for the last year and a half, so his impression is that Canadians still in the Caribbean nation are familiar with the situation.

He is calling on Canadians still in Haiti to register with GAC if they have not already.

“If you haven’t registered, please do so that we know you’re here. And when the time comes, we can be of assistance,” he said.

— with files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea and The Canadian Press.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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In Haiti, how gangs working together are adding to the ‘uncertainty’ – National

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