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Canada commits $50M in effort to help Haiti rebuild from earthquake, political turmoil.

Click to play video: 'Haiti prime minister rushed to safety as armed group opens fire'

Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry was rushed to safety as gunmen opened fire at an event celebrating the country’s independence. Video shows the prime minister and his entourage scrambling for cover outside the event, which marked the 218th anniversary of Haiti’s independence – Jan 4, 2022

Canada is committing an additional $50 million in humanitarian aid to help embattled, poverty-racked Haiti, International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said Friday.

Sajjan announced the new funding at the start of an online meeting convened by Canada to help the Caribbean nation, which has been roiled by unrest since the summer, when President Jovenel Moise was killed in a shooting at his house that also injured his wife.

“In line with our feminist international assistance policy, it means focusing on the empowerment of Haitian women and girls,” Sajjan said in opening remarks of the online meeting where he was joined by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly.

“These projects will support security, health, economic growth, and humanitarian assistance for the people of Haiti,” Sajjan added.

The new spending will include $12 million for humanitarian services and food security for people still feeling the effects of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake last August, one month after the country was rocked by the assassination of its president.

Haiti’s National Police Academy will receive another $15 million to help “support for professional and inclusive policing,” said Sajjan.

“These projects aim to increase the participation of women in policing and increase integrity. Because we all know that when women are involved, it improves peace and security.”

In opening remarks, Trudeau spoke about the need to improve security in the Caribbean nation.

“In order to address Haiti’s humanitarian needs, we must also address the challenging security situation. The increase in violence is only worsening the already precarious humanitarian situation,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau and Joly stressed the importance of bolstering Haiti’s police in the face of rising violence and corruption.

“Clashes between armed gangs are making an already precarious humanitarian situation worse. They’re making the delivery of aid to the most vulnerable populations more difficult,” Joly said.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry was also scheduled to speak at the virtual summit.

Joly is convening the online event while she is in the midst of a three-country European trip to talk with leaders there about the Russian military buildup on the Ukraine border.

The U.S. State Department said Thursday it was looking forward to a productive meeting with Central American leaders and Joly on the future of Haiti. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman represented the U.S. at the meeting.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said Los Angeles would play host this June to the Summit of the Americas, where leaders from across the two continents and the Caribbean gather every three years to talk about shared priorities.

The causes of — and potential solutions to — irregular migration will be a priority item on the agenda.

Migrants from Haiti and a number of Central American countries have been regularly moving northward, putting pressure on the southern border of the United States and creating widespread instability in the Western Hemisphere.

“Canada will host a ministerial meeting, and we look forward to a strong commitment from countries, both within the Americas and around the world, in support of the Haitian people,” said Brian Nichols, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, on Thursday.

Nichols was briefing reporters on Biden’s priorities for the Summit of the Americas, which is taking place in the U.S. for the first time since the inaugural event in Miami in 1994.

“As we approach the summit, I expect that we will continue efforts among the nations of our hemisphere, as well as partners from around the world, to support those nations in the Americas that need more help, and Haiti’s obviously very much among them,” he said.

“I hope that the Haitian people will come together around a unified way forward that will put that nation back on the path to democracy and economic growth.”

Friday’s summit included representatives of the United Nations, the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, the International Organisation of la Francophonie and the Organization of American States for what Global Affairs Canada describes as an attempt to co-ordinate security efforts and foster political stability and sustainable development.

Joly also confirmed Thursday that her counterpart from France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, would be in attendance, and that the pair “agreed on the importance of international collaboration to address the challenges faced by Haiti and Haitians particularly with respect to security issues.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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