by Tusankine English
Solidarity is strong between Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Canada to help foster solutions to the crisis in Haiti.
Addressing the 44th CARICOM Summit on Thursday, February 16, in Nassau, The Bahamas, as a special guest Prime Minister of Canada, Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, announced that Canada plans to deploy Royal Canadian Navy vessels to conduct surveillance, gather intelligence and maintain a maritime presence off the Haitian coast, in the coming weeks.
This assistance comes as “Canada continues to reinforce the capacities of the Haitian police to overpower armed gangs and hold those who support them accountable,” Prime Minister Trudeau said.
“The toll of human suffering in Haiti weighs heavily on me,” he told the Conference adding that the situation in Haiti hits not only in the Region, but also in Canada where there is a large Haitian diaspora.
Chairman of CARICOM, the Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, told the opening ceremony of the Conference on 15 February that the Community “is in vigorous agreement” that the crisis in Haiti requires urgent attention.
“We will all benefit if Haiti is again a fully-functioning state,” the Chairman said. He urged his colleagues to “learn from the failures of past efforts to help, rather than use those disappointments as an excuse for inaction.”
Prime Minister Davis expressed optimism about an agreement on “a series of concrete steps to help move towards a solution for the Haitian people, and the Region as a whole.”
These sentiments were echoed by outgoing Chairman of CARICOM, His Excellency Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of Suriname, as well as the Secretary-General of CARICOM, Dr. Carla Barnett.
“Our sister nation, Haiti, is in need of our concrete, and feasible assistance. We must support the Haitian people,” President Santokhi stated in his address to the Conference.
He said that democracy, free and fair elections, rule of law and the protection of fundamental human rights are core values in the Region, and these must be fostered and protected in Haiti.
“We will have to show the resilience and fortitude of the Haitian people as we strive to overcome challenges and advance the initiatives to improve the lives of all citizens of our Caribbean Community,” the Secretary-General stated in her remarks at the opening.
Prime Minister Trudeau told CARICOM Heads that Canada’s “fundamental objective” in supporting Haiti was to ease the suffering and empower the people to chart their own future.
“Now is the moment to come together to confront the severity of this situation,” he said urging solutions that would restore order and security, allow essential aid to flow to those in urgent need of it, and create the conditions for free and fair elections.
The Canadian Prime Minister informed the Meeting that he had a “constructive conversation” with interim Prime Minister of Haiti, Hon. Ariel Henry, as Canada continues to support Haiti to address the political, security and humanitarian crises.
In that vein, he said Canada has deployed a surveillance aircraft, and vital strategic security equipment and vehicles to assist the Haitian National Police with tools and support to solve the security situation.
Over the coming days, it will also deliver Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, Prime Minister Trudeau informed.
He also announced a sixth round of autonomous sanctions against two more individuals, in addition to 15 others that Canada has sanctioned for using their “influence and resources to support criminal gangs and fuel instability in Haiti.”
SOURCE: Caribbean Community Secretariat