Canadian military plane heads home after two surveillance flights over Haiti
Published Tuesday, February 7, 2023 8:36PM EST Last Updated Wednesday, February 8, 2023 8:55AM EST
OTTAWA -- A Canadian Armed Forces surveillance plane was heading home on Tuesday after two intelligence-collecting flights over Haiti.
The CP-140 Aurora's return came after the Liberal government announced on Saturday that the plane was being deployed to collect intelligence on gang activity in Haiti.
Defence Minister Anita Anand and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly also described the deployment at the time as a demonstration of Canada's commitment to Haiti, which has been battered by a series of crises.
Violent, feuding gangs have taken over the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince since last summer. A United Nations report last October said gangs are sexually assaulting women and children, in addition to curtailing access to health care, electricity and clean water.
The gangs have reportedly killed and kidnapped hundreds, while filling a power vacuum in a country led by politicians whose terms have expired. No elections have been held since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Military spokesman Capt. Graeme Scott said Tuesday the long-range surveillance plane was originally assigned to a U.S.-led counter-narcotics mission in the Caribbean before being tasked with conducting two flights over Haiti over two days.
"The CP-140 has been capturing information that will be used by the government of Canada to further assess the situation in Haiti," Scott said in an emailed statement.
"As the aircraft has now completed that information gathering, as part of Canada's response to the situation in Haiti, it is now on its way back to Canada."
It wasn't immediately clear how the information will be used, though Haiti's unelected prime minister, Ariel Henry, has requested a foreign military intervention, which Washington says Canada ought to lead.
The idea has proven divisive among Haitians, and Canada has instead sought a political consensus in the country, which includes sanctioning more than a dozen of the country's political and economic elites, accusing them of emboldening the gangs.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2023.