Canada’s foreign minister said the “Joint Security Coordination Group” would seek to strengthen the international response to the crisis.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolly announced that the country will form a “joint security coordination team” to deal with the ongoing crisis in Haiti this summer.
Canada will lead efforts in Haiti’s neighboring Dominican Republic, Joly announced at Thursday’s ministerial meeting.
In a subsequent tweet, Joly said the team would “strengthen international efforts in security assistance, working closely with the Haitian National Police and the United Nations to create a sustainable environment for long-term peace and security in Haiti.”
The foreign minister did not specify why Canada would partially address the Dominican Republic, which has deported tens of thousands of Haitians fleeing the crisis. A team will also be working from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, she said.
Additionally, Joly explained that Canada will coordinate international assistance, including funding, equipment and technical support, to help Haiti’s struggling police. The country will also donate another $13 million to United Nations security and anticorruption projects.
“The situations on the ground are extremely fragile and the needs are enormous — they are beyond the capacity of Canada or any other country to address them alone,” Joly said, stressing the need for urgent, well-coordinated support.
For Canada’s support to Haiti to be effective, it must be well coordinated and integrated. The Haitian people deserve it.
That’s why we held a ministerial meeting on Haiti and announced the Canadian-led Joint Security Coordination Group.
— Melanie Joly (@melaniejoly) June 15, 2023
Haiti has been dealing with multiple and complex crises in recent years, exacerbated by natural disasters and the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021. The humanitarian community has been grappling with a public health emergency and dire economic conditions as gangs take control of large swathes of the country’s capital.
In response, the government of acting President Ariel Henry asked international forces to intervene and help its police force in October.
Meanwhile, the United States has urged Ottawa to take a leading role in the international response, but countries have been wary of sending troops and some in Haiti reject the prospect of foreign intervention.
For his part, Henry insisted that security must be built in order to hold a credible election. No elected official has been in power in Haiti’s federal government since January; Henry, meanwhile, was appointed by Moise shortly before his assassination.
In talks this week with representatives of Haitian civil society, Henry said he would seek to expand the composition of the country’s transitional council to make the government more inclusive.
On Thursday, Joly also announced sanctions against Gracia Delva and former deputy Prophane Victor. Gracia Delva is a renowned compas musician and former Haitian senator.
Victor has been accused of supporting a gang in the Artibonite region he politically represents, an allegation he denies. Joly did not give specific reasons for the new penalties, but they bring the number of Haitian political and business leaders sanctioned to 21.
The latest sanctions essentially freeze “any assets these individuals may have in Canada and bar them from entering Canada,” Joly said in a tweet.