First attempt to airlift Canadians out of Haiti grounded by weather

Helicopter flights to bring 18 Canadians out of Haiti were postponed Monday due to poor weather conditions in the Dominican Republic, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti told CBC News.

André François Giroux told Power & Politics that Canada’s new assisted departure operation for Haiti, announced Monday, will resume when heavy rain and wind conditions abate.

“We were all ready to go,” Giroux said, adding that the operation was postponed for “the safety of everybody.”

Haiti is in chaos due to widespread gang violence that has shut down the main airport in Port-au-Prince because of its proximity to gang territory.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Monday Canada will transport eligible Canadians by helicopter from Haiti to the neighbouring Dominican Republic, where they can catch flights home.

Only citizens with valid Canadian passports are eligible; Joly said the government is exploring options for other Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their families.

“Our goal, as the government of Canada, is always to bring them to safety,” Joly said.

The most vulnerable Canadians, such as people with medical conditions or children, will be prioritized, she added.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) says it has contacted Canadians in Haiti to inform them of the operation. Fewer than 300 people have asked for assistance getting out. Just under 30 people have expressed interest and are eligible to leave immediately. 

Those attempting to get out of Haiti through the emergency program will have to reach the meeting point in Haiti on their own — which is one reason why some people aren’t willing to leave within 24 hours, Joly said.

WATCH | Canada to transport Canadian citizens out of Haiti: 

‘Important to bring Canadians to safety’ as Haiti crisis worsens, minister says

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says the government’s current plan is to evacuate vulnerable Canadian citizens from Haiti to the Dominican Republic, but added it’s exploring ‘other options’ amid worsening violence.

See also  Day after explosive allegation, Trudeau says he's not trying to 'provoke' India

“The situation may be very dangerous,” she said, adding that the gathering point is in a “green zone,” a safe place, which will make transporting Canadians to the Dominican Republic easier.

Joly is advising Canadians in Haiti who need help escaping to register with GAC. Information on how to register can be found on Joly’s social media pages or on the GAC website.

Roughly 3,000 Canadians in Haiti are registered with the federal government, according to GAC.

The department said on March 23 it had responded to 245 inquiries since violence erupted earlier this month among rival gangs, leaving foreigners stranded amid a wave of kidnappings, robberies and violent crime.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button