MONTREAL, Canada (AFP)— Canada has deployed a long-range patrol aircraft to Haiti to help in its fight against violent gangs controlling large swaths of the Caribbean island, the Ottawa government said Sunday.
The plane, an air force CP-140 Aurora, has surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities, said a joint statement from Defense Minister Anita Anand and Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.
They said the deployment was part of Canada's efforts "to disrupt the activities of gangs in Haiti and demonstrate Canada's commitment to the Haitian people."
The statement said the aircraft would remain in the region "for a number of days."
It added: "Canada is undertaking efforts to address the dire security situation in the country and supports the Haitian National Police."
Canada was responding to a Haitian request for support "as violence continues to escalate in the country," the statement said.
It noted that Canada had imposed sanctions "on those responsible for the ongoing violence, including Haitian elites who are enabling the gangs."
In October and again last month, the statement said, the Canadian air force "airlifted Haitian-purchased armored vehicles to the director general of the Haitian national police in response to requests from the Haitian government."
The Haitian police, lacking equipment and personnel, have been overwhelmed by the armed gangs, which often act with impunity.
The United Nations warned last month that gang-related violence there had reached levels unseen in decades.
The country meantime is riven by both political and economic crises.
"Canada will continue to support the people of Haiti and explore ways to help the Haitian people emerge from this crisis," the Canadian statement said.
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