Taiwan is planning to donate bulletproof vests to the Haitian National Police (HNP) to help the Caribbean country tackle a political, economic and security crisis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.
Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Director-General Florencia Hsie (謝妙宏) said that ever since then-Haitian president Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his residence in July last year, the country has been paralyzed by widespread civil unrest.
Taiwan would send bulletproof vests to the diplomatic ally before the end of the year, Hsie said, adding that the details of the donation, including the number of vests and the delivery date, would be disclosed later.
The announcement came days after Canada and the US said in a joint statement that they had sent “security equipment,” including tactical and armored vehicles, to Haiti to help the country 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 US and Canada said on Saturday.
Since the middle of last month, gangs have surrounded a key fuel terminal and demand Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s resignation amid a spike in gasoline prices, after his administration said it could no longer afford to subsidize fuel.
Thousands of protesters have been blocking streets in Port-au-Prince and other major cities. The protests have resulted in crucial shortages, forcing hospitals to reduce services, gas stations to close, and banks and grocery stores to restrict their opening hours.
A UN report on Friday said that nearly 60 percent of Port-au-Prince’s population, or 1.5 million people, might live in areas under the control of gangs, many of which have turned to sexual assault to consolidate power.
The Taiwanese embassy in Haiti has since the middle of last month been temporarily closed for safety reasons.
Hsie said the embassy has contingency plans in place in case its staff needs to evacuate.
The embassy is also maintaining close contact with all Taiwanese in the country, and has advised them to avoid any unnecessary travel and remain vigilant, she said.
Over the past several years, the ministry has had 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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