The US and Canadian militaries on Saturday delivered security equipment to Haiti including armored vehicles to help the impoverished Caribbean nation tackle spiralling security and health crises, Washington and Ottawa announced.
The request for assistance from Haiti came as a cholera epidemic worsens and armed gangs seize vast swathes of territory, including the country’s largest fuel import terminal.
US and Canadian air force planes landed in Port-au-Prince carrying “vital Haitian government-purchased security equipment, including tactical and armored vehicles,” a joint statement from the two governments said.
The equipment will help police combat “criminal actors who are fomenting violence and disrupting the flow of critically-needed humanitarian assistance, hindering efforts to halt the spread of cholera,” it said.
The United States and Canada also said they plan to help Haiti bolster their police training efforts.
A senior US diplomat and a senior military official visited the Haitian capital this week in a show of support.
But Washington has made clear it is reluctant to send troops to Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, for a proposed international force.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged member states to deploy a “rapid action force” to Haiti to tackle “a dramatic deterioration in security.”
A UN report said Friday that 60 percent of Port-au-Prince—or 1.5 million people—may now be under the control of gangs, many of which the report said have turned to sexual assault to consolidate power.
Protests and looting have rocked the already unstable country since September 11, when the government announced a fuel price hike.
Since mid-September, the country’s largest fuel import terminal, in Varreux, has been controlled by powerful armed gangs.
The UN last week also warned of a possible explosion of cholera cases in Haiti, with 32 confirmed and 224 suspected cases as of October 8, according to the World Health Organization — the country’s first cases in three years.
Nearly 10,000 people died during a cholera epidemic in Haiti between 2010 and 2019.
Haiti had already been mired in a political and economic crisis for years before the assassination of president Jovenel Moise in 2021 exacerbated its instability, with gangs taking an increasingly strong hold.