April 24th, 2024

First airlift for Canadians fleeing Haiti is complete after weather delay

By Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press on March 26, 2024.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly responds to a question from a reporter about the situation in Haiti, Monday, March 25, 2024 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says 18 Canadians were brought out of Haiti by helicopter this morning.

On Monday, Joly had said the 18 had already left, but Global Affairs Canada has clarified that their departure was put off due to bad weather.

The people were flown to safety in the Dominican Republic once the heavy rain and wind conditions subsided.

Joly announced Canada’s evacuation plan for citizens in Haiti on Monday afternoon.

Canadian passport-holders are being offered a chance to leave as Haiti undergoes food shortages and escalating violence from armed gangs.

Joly’s spokeswoman says the minister was told before her Monday press conference that the evacuations had just taken place, and she only learned about the postponement after talking to reporters.

Global Affairs said the 18 people were safely lodged overnight, and more evacuations are now expected to continue.

Canada plans to airlift small groups of Canadians through helicopters to the Dominican Republic at no charge, though they must pay for their own accommodation and travel back to Canada.

The airlift is only for Canadians who have valid passports, and Joly said she is asking Dominican Republic officials to allow relatives of citizens as well as permanent residents of Canada to evacuate as well.

The Canadian Embassy in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince can offer emergency documents to people with missing or expired passports.

As of Monday, officials said there were roughly 3,000 people with a connection to Canada who have voluntarily registered their presence in Haiti with the government.

Fewer than 300 of them had requested assistance to leave the country.

Fewer still – less than 100 of those asking for help, Joly said Monday – are Canadian citizens with valid passports.

Only about 30 of them indicated they were “travel ready,” an official told reporters.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2024.

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