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Haiti’s main airport reopens after months of gang violence

Haiti's main international airport reopened on Monday for the first time in nearly three months after relentless gang violence forced authorities to close it to all traffic in early March.

Powerful armed groups have controlled much of Port-au-Prince for nearly 3 months

A blurred image of a woman on a street carrying a large, red bowl on her head as she walks past a welcome sign, in English and French, for an airport. Debris, garbage and clothing are scattered on the street below the sign.

Haiti's main international airport reopened on Monday for the first time in nearly three months after relentless gang violence forced authorities to close it to all traffic in early March.

The reopening of the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is expected to help ease a critical shortage of medication and other basic supplies, since the country's main seaport remains paralyzed.

However, only Sunrise Airways, a local carrier, is flying in and out of Port-au-Prince for now. U.S.-based airlines are not expected to start doing so until late May or early June.

The first Sunrise Airways flight, bound for Miami, was scheduled to depart at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Before Monday's reopening, the sole airport operating in Haiti was located in the north coastal city of Cap-Haïtien.

However, it was out of reach for many seeking to flee the country since the roads leading from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haïtien are controlled by gangs that have opened fire on cars and buses passing through.

As a result, the Canadian and U.S. governments evacuated citizens and permanent residents by helicopter from elsewhere in Port-au-Prince, as did non-profit organizations, as powerful gangs laid siege to parts of the capital.

WATCH | CBC News in Haiti's capital, where gangs control much of the city:

CBC News gets rare access to Port-au-Prince as Haiti deals with gang crisis

2 days ago

Duration 2:05

CBC News's Paul Hunter travels with the World Food Program from the port city of Cap-Haïtien to Port-au-Prince to witness the cataclysmic humanitarian crisis and efforts to bring food and aid to millions of Haitians.

Capital gripped by violence

The attacks began on Feb. 29, with gunmen seizing control of police stations, opening fire on the Port-au-Prince airport and storming Haiti's two biggest prisons, freeing more than 4,000 inmates.

Gangs have since directed their attacks on previously peaceful communities, leaving thousands homeless.

People walk among a number of burned out cars.

More than 2,500 people have been killed or injured in Haiti from January to March, an increase of more than 50 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to the United Nations.

The attack on the airport left then-prime minister Ariel Henry, who was on an official trip to Kenya at the time, locked out of Haiti. He has since resigned, and a transitional presidential council is seeking a new prime minister for Haiti.

The council is also tasked with selecting a new cabinet and organizing general elections.

In recent weeks, U.S. military planes have landed at the Port-au-Prince airport with supplies, including medication and hydration fluids — as well as civilian contractors to help Haiti prepare for the arrival of foreign forces expected to help quell violence unleashed by gangs, who control 80 per cent of the capital.

WATCH | People of Port-au-Prince reliant on humanitarian assistance amid security crisis:

Life on Port-au-Prince's gang-controlled streets

1 day ago

Duration 3:53

CBC News got rare access to Port-au-Prince, where gangs control much of the Haitian capital and people rely on humanitarian aid for almost everything. Officials in Haiti are anxiously waiting for a multinational force to arrive and hopefully restore order.

Foreign police officers on the way

On Sunday, Korir Sing'oei, Kenya's principal secretary for foreign affairs, said a plan to deploy police officers from the East African country was in its final stages.

"I can tell you for sure that that deployment will happen in the next few days, few weeks," he said. Sing'oei added that "there is no chance at all" that Kenyan President William Ruto will visit Haiti.

Ruto was scheduled to depart Kenya on Sunday for an official four-day visit to the U.S., where he is expected to meet President Joe Biden.

In March, Kenya and Haiti signed agreements to try to salvage a plan for the African country to deploy 1,000 police officers to the troubled Caribbean nation to help bring an end to the violence.

Other countries expected to back up the Kenyan forces include the Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Bangladesh. It wasn't immediately clear when those forces would arrive.

WATCH | Uneasy calm in Haiti's capital as transitional government struggles to restore order:

Struggle to quell gang violence continues in Haiti's capital

3 days ago

Duration 2:04

There's an uneasy calm in Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince as the transitional government struggles to restore order over warring gangs that control the city and as people are displaced due to the violence.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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