Canada's Haiti airlift expands to include relatives, residents and charter flight

OTTAWA — Canada is expanding its evacuation of citizens from Haiti to include relatives and Canadian permanent residents.

The government has also arranged for a charter flight for Canadians who pay a market rate to fly between the Dominican Republic and Montreal.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced a week ago that Canada was airlifting people with valid Canadian passports from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.

At the time, Joly said Ottawa was pressing the Dominican Republic to allow permanent residents of Canada aboard those helicopter flights, as well as the foreign relatives of Canadians.

Global Affairs Canada has since registered an uptick in Canadians seeking help getting out of Haiti, as hopes for a lull in widespread violence have given way to gang−fuelled chaos.

The Caribbean country has faced a political and humanitarian crisis since mid−2021, and gangs have perpetrated brazen violence across the country while limiting access to food and essentials.

The situation got even worse last month when progress toward a foreign military intervention prompted gangs to release prisoners and shut down Haiti’s main airport.

As of a week ago, 3,000 people with a connection to Canada had voluntarily registered their presence in Haiti with Ottawa, and just 300 had asked for help leaving, a number that has since expanded.

 This report by The Canadian Press was first published April, 1, 2024.

The Canadian Press