Canadians in Haiti warned to shelter in place as gang violence continues


Canadians in Haiti are being advised to stock up on food, water and medications and shelter in place as gang violence in the country continues to escalate.

The advice was issued Sunday night as Global Affairs Canada updated its travel advisory for the country.

The update came hours before officials from multiple countries, including Canada and the U.S., and the United Nations are expected to attend an emergency meeting in Jamaica on the situation.

Caricom, the 15-nation Caribbean bloc, made the invite Friday, saying in a statement that “the situation on the ground remains dire.”

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

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The federal government is advising Canadians that if they cannot shelter in place, they should limit movements and maintain a low profile when going outside.

According to Global Affairs in a statement to Global News, there are 2,901 Canadians in Haiti that are registered with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. It also said their Emergency Watch and Response Centre has responded to 600 enquiries since March 3, mostly in regard to general travel information and the overall security situation.

Click to play video: 'Haiti declares state of emergency after gang violence overwhelms capital'

Haiti declares state of emergency after gang violence overwhelms capital

Members of the Caricom regional trade bloc have been trying for months to get political actors in Haiti to agree to form an umbrella transitional unity government.  But average Haitians, many of whom have been forced from their homes by the bloody street fighting, can’t wait. The problem for police in securing government buildings is that many Haitians have streamed into them, seeking refuge.

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Caricom said Friday that while regional leaders remain deeply engaged in trying to bring opposition parties and civil society groups together to form a unity government, “the stakeholders are not yet where they need to be.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with the prime ministers of Jamaica and Barbados on Monday, according to readouts from the Prime Minister’s Office. The readouts said that Trudeau discussed plans for Canada to participate in the Caricom meeting for helping facilitate political consensus towards “free and fair elections” and “restore democratic order” in Haiti.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced, following a meeting with Caribbean leaders on Monday, an added US$100 million to finance the deployment of a multinational force mission to Haiti. And, in addition, another US$33 million in humanitarian aid and the creation of a joint proposal agreed on by the leaders and Haitian stakeholders that would expedite the creation of a “presidential college.
In February, embattled Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreed to hold general elections by mid-2025, but has been away from the country for more than a week and as of last week was in Puerto Rico as he tries to negotiate a return home. It was unclear if he would attend the Caricom meeting.

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In addition to a nightly curfew in place, Global Affairs Canada also says the closure of Toussaint Louverture International Airport was added to its advisory on Sunday.

Since the closure of the Dominican Republic’s air border with Haiti on March 5, GAC says its embassy in Port-au-Prince will not be able to assist Canadians entering the country. The embassy remains temporarily closed to the public.

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Global Affairs also said Canada is not planning assisted departures or repatriation flights for Canadians in Haiti at this time.

Click to play video: '‘As bad as I’ve seen it’: How can Haiti emerge from years of unrest?'

‘As bad as I’ve seen it’: How can Haiti emerge from years of unrest?

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