Canada announced Thursday that it was conducting an assessment mission in Haiti, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Ottawa to discuss how to establish an intervention force in the troubled Caribbean country.
The Canadian delegation must consult with regional partners of the United Nations, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and others, according to a statement from the Canadian government.
The mission follows calls from the Haitian government and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for international intervention as armed gangs take over large areas of the country and a cholera outbreak worsens.
But the idea of an intervention force has raised suspicions among part of the Haitian population and the UN Security Council, which unanimously approved a resolution last week against the gang leaders, but without reference to a multinational force.
In addition, no country has offered to lead such a mission and the United States has said it will support it, but not lead it.
– Optimism –
Before Blinken’s arrival, a senior US official expressed hope that international intervention in Haiti would progress and rejected the pessimistic view that no country would take over.
US Secretary of State Brian Nichols said on Wednesday that he was “optimistic” about the possibility of establishing this force under the UN and considered early November as a possible date for its launch.
“I think things are going normally,” he told reporters, saying it could be “a police force with military elements.”
Nichols also said a “number of countries” have the option to lead a mission, including Canada, but no decision has been made yet.
“I have spoken with dozens of partner countries around the world about the situation in Haiti and there is strong support for a multinational force,” he added.
– Reinforce the police –
Blinken said before his trip that solving Haiti’s problems would be “difficult, if not impossible” without restoring security.
“We need to lead and use the very damaging link between the gangs and certain political elites that fund them to advance their own interests rather than the interests of the country,” Blinken said at an event on Wednesday.
He recalled that the United States and Canada had supplied equipment, including armored vehicles, in mid-October.
“If we can help break that down and strengthen the Haitian National Police, I think the government can control security,” he said.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said any action “must take into account what the Haitians themselves think”.
Joly said Canada will seek to impose sanctions on gang leaders in accordance with last week’s Security Council resolution, which froze all assets associated with Jimmy Cherizier, nicknamed “Barbecue,” whose armed groups have raided Haiti’s main oil terminal. blocked.
Blinken will meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and visit a Ukrainian refugee center in Ottawa, and on Friday he will go to Montreal where he will visit a lithium recycling plant.