Ottawa advises against all travel to Haiti as Canadians remain trapped amid unrest
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, February 15, 2019 9:50AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 15, 2019 11:04AM EST
MONTREAL -- The federal government has issued a new advisory for Haiti, saying Canadians should avoid all travel to the Caribbean country as it works to get out citizens trapped there.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa Friday the government is deeply concerned about what's going on in Haiti.
"Many Canadians have family members and friends in Haiti that they are of course worried about, and our hearts go out to them," Trudeau said.
Global Affairs said it upgraded its advisory for Haiti late Thursday due to ongoing civil unrest throughout the country.
The notice warns that the "security situation could further deteriorate quickly" and that people should "consider leaving by commercial means while they are available."
More than 100 Canadians have been unable to leave Haiti since protesters blocked major highways across the country in an effort to pressure President Jovenel Moise to resign. Protesters are angry over skyrocketing inflation and the government's failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti.
"We're also obviously preoccupied with a number of Canadians who are in Haiti right now who are looking to come home to Canada in this crisis situation," Trudeau said. "We are working with them, Global Affairs Canada and all our diplomatic corps is very much engaged in this."
Ottawa-based physician Emilio Bazile and three members of his group from the Maritimes are among the Canadians stuck in Haiti following the violent protests that have claimed several lives over the past week.
He said Thursday that food is running low for him and his 10-member medical team, who travelled to southern Haiti to provide care to locals.
A team of 26 aid workers with a missionary group from Quebec is also among the scores of trapped Canadians.
Air Transat says 111 Quebecers were stuck in a hotel, unable to reach the Port-au-Prince airport because of the protests.
Global Affairs Canada said it is providing consular advice to tour operators and has people on the ground in Haiti to provide assistance to Canadian citizens.