Canada will announce $100 million in aid to Haitian police for equipment and other support, a government source familiar with the matter told Radio-Canada.
Details on how the money will be spent will be provided later on Friday.
The news, first reported in La Presse, comes during US President Joe Biden’s two-day visit to Ottawa, where the president is expected to pressure Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take a leadership role in the restoration of order in Haiti.
Canada has pushed back against calls to lead an international stabilization force, determined to avoid being drawn into the quagmire of urban violence that is currently sweeping the country.
The funding announcement also comes days after the UN issued a statement expressing grave concern for the country as “extreme violence continues to spin out of control”.
According to the UN, 531 people were killed, 300 injured and 277 kidnapped in gang-related incidents that took place mainly in the capital of Port-au-Prince from January 1 to March 15 this year.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Marta Hurtado said in the first two weeks of March alone clashes between gangs left at least 208 people dead, 164 injured and 101 kidnapped.
“Most of the victims were killed or injured by snipers who allegedly fired randomly at people in their homes or on the street,” he added. said a statement issued by Hurtado.
“Sexual violence is also used by gangs against women and girls to terrorize, subjugate and punish the population,” the statement added. “Gang members frequently use sexual violence against abducted girls to pressure families into paying a ransom.”
The violence has displaced at least 160,000 Haitians as food prices soar, leaving half of the country’s 11 million citizens without enough to eat.
Leading mission in Haiti ‘would be difficult’: Eyre
Chief of the Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre said this month that he doubts Canada can carry out such a mission at this time, given its commitments in Europe.
“My concern is just our ability,” he told Reuters earlier this month. “There are so many things to do… It would be difficult.”
Retired Lieutenant-General Steve Bowes headed Canadian Joint Operations Command, the headquarters responsible for planning such interventions. He said a fight against Haiti’s gangs would be a lot like the army’s long war with the Taliban.
“For all intents and purposes, gangs act like insurgents,” he told CBC News. “So it’s no different.”
Port-au-Prince is a mountainous city built around a bay, with around three million inhabitants and some of the most populated slums in the world. It is controlled by a patchwork of dozens of gangs, several of which have coalesced into larger alliances such as G9 and GPep.
All gang leaders live off the proceeds of kidnapping and extortion and terrorize the city to extract money from its impoverished population.
Their weapons and ammunition primarily enter Haiti through its loosely controlled port, which includes terminals controlled by elite Haitian families and businessmen accused of arming gangs and using them to serve their own interests.
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