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Canada relocating some diplomats from ‘volatile’ Haiti, following other nations

OTTAWA — Canada is moving to reduce the number of diplomats at its embassy in Haiti, citing an increasingly volatile security situation in the Caribbean country.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says the government decided to limit staff at the Port-au-Prince embassy to essential employees only.

Other countries have also moved non-essential staff out of the country over the past week.

On Tuesday, Canada’s ambassador in Haiti said none of his staff had been evacuated, though some non-essential employees were working from outside the country because gangs had taken over the main airport.

Global Affairs Canada says it made the decision “due to the volatility of the security situation, the lack of reliable supplies and the need to support an effective presence in a volatile situation.”

Joly says the drawdown will enable the remaining staff to do their work despite having fewer supplies.

“We are committed to supporting Haiti and the Haitian people, today and in the long term,” Joly said in a statement on the platform X. 

“Our immediate priority remains the safety and security of Canadians, and this intervention will help ensure it.”

Global Affairs Canada says it will temporarily relocate personnel to an unnamed country where they’ll work remotely.

The news comes two days after unelected Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry agreed to resign once a transitional council is formed to oversee an international military intervention led by Kenya.

Haiti has been in a profound security crisis since mid-2021, when gangs took control of key infrastructure and started violent turf wars that have led to a collapse of most medical and food systems in the country.

The commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, Vice-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie, told The Canadian Press in a year-end interview last December that the government prepared an evacuation plan for Haiti last year, but never used it. 

Canadians were evacuated from Israel following the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas and from Sudan last spring after fighting erupted in that country. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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