US sends armored vehicles to help Haiti fight ‘criminal actors’
The U.S. and Canada have sent armored vehicles to Haiti after its government called for foreign help in defending against gangs threatening to oust acting prime minister Ariel Henry.
Henry’s government faces a mounting political and security crisis after the prime minister last month announced an end to fuel subsidies, spurring crippling shortages and soaring prices.
In a statement on Sunday, a State Department spokesperson said that a joint U.S.-Canadian aircraft arrived at the capital city of Port-au-Prince with equipment including tactical and armored vehicles and other supplies.
“This equipment will assist (Haiti’s 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,” the State Department said.
The spokesperson added that the joint initiative will also help train Haitian authorities and local law enforcement in an effort to combat the ongoing wave of crime in the country.
The delivery comes after a Haitian gang known as “G9 and Family” last month demanded the resignation of Henry amid growing protests over the rise in petroleum prices.
G9 and Family also demanded the government grant amnesty to its members, while also declaring its intention to seek seats in the Haitian parliament, according to the Associated Press.
Haiti is still reeling from the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse more than a year ago and devastating earthquake that rocked the island country soon after. Thousands of Haitian immigrants have fled the country to seek asylum in the U.S. as crime and poverty increase.
Local gags have been fighting over territorial control of the country. Combined with the gas shortages, the violence has disrupted hospitals, gas stations, banks, and grocery stores.
At a meeting of the Organization of American States summit in Lima, Peru on Friday, Haitian Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus called for an “international police force” to help secure the country, according to an Al-Jazeera report.
Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S. Bocchit Edmond made a plea for U.S. and Canadian support earlier in the week, according to CBC.
“We wish to see our neighbours like the United States, like Canada, take the lead and move fast,” he reportedly said.
“If nothing is done quickly, there is a risk of another head of state [being] killed in Haiti,” he added.
The State Department statement Sunday urged other countries to follow through on their commitments to support Haiti’s “most pressing needs.”
“We encourage partner nations to contribute to the UN Basket Fund to restore peace and citizen security for the Haitian people,” it said.
“Together with the Government of Haiti, the United States and Canada affirm the importance of working together to support the restoration of security in Haiti.”