MIAMI – The United States (US) Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) said it had transported “vital” security equipment to Haiti in response to a request for international assistance from the Haitian government to deal with the security situation in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.
SOUTHCOM said that a US Air Force C-17 aeroplane, based at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, transported the security equipment to Port-au-Prince.
“The delivery of the vital equipment was part of a joint operation involving US Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft,” said SOUTHCOM in a statement, stating that the equipment included tactical and armored vehicles, purchased by the Haitian National Police (HNP), from Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, Canada.
“The delivered equipment will help the HNP ensure access to vital resources and infrastructure urgently needed in Haiti to respond to a public-health crisis following a recent rise of cholera cases in the country,” it added.
SOUTHCOM, which is a joint US command, comprising more than 1,200 military and civilian personnel representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and several other federal agencies, said the mission to Haiti comes three days after US Air Force Lieutenant General Andrew Croft, military deputy commander of SOUTHCOM, accompanied US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian A Nichols, to Port-au-Prince.
Nichols led a US interagency delegation on a two-day visit to the country where they met with Prime Minister Ariel Henry, the Montana Group, private sector leaders, and broader civil society groups.
“They assessed how the US government can continue providing various forms of assistance aimed at helping the country improve security and respond to the growing humanitarian crisis,” SOUTHCOM said.
“Together with the Haitian government, the United States and Canada affirm the importance of working together to support the restoration of security in Haiti in partnership with the international community,” it added.
The United States and Canada also said in a joint statement on Saturday that the equipment will “assist the HNP in their fight against criminal actors, who are instigating violence and disrupting the flow of critically-needed humanitarian assistance, hindering efforts to halt the spread of cholera. The United States and Canada remain committed to supporting the HNP’s work of protecting and serving the Haitian people. In coordination with international partners, our governments are working with Haitian partners to strengthen Haiti’s capacity to train additional police officers and improve law enforcement operations.”
Noting that the United States and Canada commend the international community for mobilizing new commitments in support of Haiti’s most pressing needs, the statement went on to say that “we urge international partners to deliver on those commitments. We encourage partner nations to contribute to the UN Basket Fund to restore peace and citizen security for the Haitian people. Together with the Government of Haiti, the United States and Canada affirm the importance of working together to support the restoration of security in Haiti.”
Armed gangs have prevented fuel from being distributed in the country by commanding the primary fuel deports. Their actions, including inter-gang rivalry, have led to a state of insecurity in Haiti, where opposition forces have also been calling on Prime Minister Henry to demit office.
Henry came to office following the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. The opposition has been calling for fresh presidential and legislative elections that are now overdue.
Last week, Henry urged the regional integration movement, of which his country is a member, to express solidarity and request assistance to alleviate what has been termed “the deepening humanitarian, security, political, and economic crises in Haiti”.
A statement issued by the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat said Henry had written to the leaders of the 15-member grouping on the issue facing the French-speaking country.
“The actions of criminal gangs have resulted in the complete cessation of fuel distribution in several parts of the country forcing the closure of hospitals and schools and the shutting down of water pumps prohibiting the provision of clean water. The water shortage also has exacerbated the resurgence of a cholera epidemic particularly in poor neighborhoods,” Caricom said in the statement.
It said regional leaders “condemn the callous and inhumane actions of the armed gangs responsible for the roadblocks limiting movement of the Haitian people and of goods, the destruction of life and livelihoods and the deprivation of the basic needs of the people.
“Heads of Government call upon all stakeholders in Haiti to come together with urgency at this critical juncture in the country’s history to bring an end to the protracted political stalemate in the interest of the people of the country and choose a nation above self-interest.” CMC