Canadian military aiding embassy in Haiti includes elite unit: sources

By Naomi Barghiel & Mercedes Stephenson, Global News, March 22, 2024

Members of Canada’s elite special forces unit are at the embassy in Haiti’s capital city, Global News has learned.

Members of Joint Task Force 2, the highly-trained counterterrorism unit, have been preparing to deploy for the past two weeks as escalating gang violence in Haiti reached dangerous levels, sources have said.

Some are now at the Canadian embassy in Port-at-Prince, sources say.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) told Global News Friday that military members are currently working with the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince to assist with “contingency planning,” but did not offer further details.

Canadian special forces have been deployed to Haiti before, and to countries like Afghanistan where they helped evacuate embassy staff in 2021.

“The Government of Canada continues to monitor the deteriorating situation in Haiti and is exploring options to help Canadians in Haiti, working with partners and likeminded governments,” GAC says.

Haiti has been gripped for weeks by unrelenting gang attacks in the latest escalation of months of fighting, leaving it with dwindling supplies of basic goods. A state of emergency and nightly curfew was extended earlier this month as key state institutions were attacked.

The federal government also advised Canadians earlier this month that if they cannot shelter in place, they should limit movements and maintain a low profile when going outside.

According to GAC, there are currently 3,039 Canadians in Haiti registered with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. It also said their Emergency Watch and Response Centre has responded to 245 enquiries since March 3, mostly in regard to general travel information and the overall security situation.

“Due to the lack of reliable supplies and the need to support an effective presence in a volatile situation, Canada has temporarily drawn down to essential employees at our embassy in Haiti,” GAC told Global News Friday.

“Canada’s embassy will continue to support Canadians who remain in the country, as well as Haiti and the Haitian people,” it said.

 

Posted March 30, 2024