Canada sends armored vehicles to Haiti to fight gang violence

FILE PHOTO: North American Leader's Summit in Mexico City

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada delivered armored vehicles to Haiti on Wednesday to help combat criminal gangs as the Caribbean nation faces a humanitarian crisis, the Canadian foreign ministry said.

Canadian military aircraft made the delivery to the Haitian National Police in the capital Port-au-Prince, it added.

Haitian gangs have seized control of much of the country since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, leading to routine gun battles with police.

Hundreds died in turf battles last year, and in September, Haitian gangs blocked a fuel terminal for nearly six weeks, halting most economic activity.

Canada and the United States provided tactical and armored vehicles and other supplies in October after Haiti urged the international community to send in a "specialized armed force." Ottawa has also sanctioned Haitians accused of gang ties, including a former president, two ex-prime ministers and three high-profile entrepreneurs.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Mexico City on Wednesday the sanctions and aid were "making a difference" in Haiti.

"We're all very aware that things could get worse in Haiti and that's why Canada and partners, including the United States, are preparing various scenarios if it does start to get worse," he said.

Canada will continue to provide support but the Haitian crisis must be resolved domestically, said Trudeau, who was attending the North American Leaders' Summit along with U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

"What is particularly important in this situation is that the Haitian people themselves be at the center of the support, the building of stability, and the resolution of the crisis in Haiti right now."

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Richard Chang)