Taiwan to Donate Bulletproof Vests to Haiti to Help Fight Violent Crime

People take to the street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Oct. 3 in protest of rising fuel hikes and gang violence in the city. Reuters photo
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Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA) Taiwan is planning to donate bulletproof vests to the Haitian National Police to help the Caribbean country tackle its current political, economic and security crisis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

Florencia Hsie (謝妙宏), head of MOFA’s Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, said that ever since Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at his private home in July 2021, the country has been paralyzed by widespread civil unrest.

In an effort to assist during the crisis, Taiwan will send bulletproof vests to the Haitian National Police (HNP) sometime before the end of the year, Hsie said, adding that the details of the donation, including the exact number of vests and the delivery date, will be disclosed later.

MOFA’s announcement of the donation came days after Canada and the United States said in a joint statement that they had sent “security equipment”, including tactical and armored vehicles, to Haiti to help deal with the crisis.

“This equipment will assist the HNP in their fight against criminal actors who are fomenting violence and disrupting the flow of critically needed humanitarian assistance, hindering efforts to halt the spread of cholera,” the U.S. and Canada said in the statement on Saturday.

Since mid-September, gangs have surrounded a key fuel terminal to demand Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation and to protest a spike in petroleum prices, after his administration said it could no longer afford to subsidize fuel.

In addition, thousands of protesters have been blocking streets in the Hatian capital of Port-au-Prince and other major cities. The protests have resulted in crucial shortages, forcing hospitals to cut back on services, petrol stations to close, and banks and grocery stores to restrict their opening hours.

According to a United Nations report published last Friday, nearly 60 percent of Port-au-Prince’s population, or 1.5 million people, may now be under the control of gangs, many of which have turned to sexual assault to consolidate power.

Due to the widespread unrest, the Taiwan embassy in Haiti has been temporarily closed for several days since mid-September for safety reasons.

Hsie said Tuesday that the embassy has contingency plans in place in case its staff needs to evacuate amid the escalating crisis in Haiti, one of Taiwan’s 14 diplomatic allies.

The embassy is also maintaining close contact with all Taiwanese in the Caribbean country and has advised them to avoid any unnecessary travel and remain vigilant, she said.

Over the past several years, MOFA has maintained a “red” travel alert, the highest on its four-level scale, for Haiti, warning people not to travel to the country.

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