Operation HAMLET: 13 years of supporting peace in Haiti

A man hands a Canadian flag to a soldier.
Haiti. October 11, 2017 – Mr. Andre Frenette, Ambassador of Canada to Haiti and Canadian Armed Forces members deployed on Operation HAMLET participate in a ceremony to commemorate the Canadian contribution to MINUSTAH. (Photo: Global Affairs Canada).

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By Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs

Five Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members gathered at the Canadian embassy in Haiti for a private ceremony on October 12, 2017, officially marking the end of Operation HAMLET—the CAF operation to support the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

This operation, which has been active since 2004, has come to a close as the United Nations replaces MINUSTAH with a smaller mission known as the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, with a mandate to assist the government in strengthening the rule of law, policing, and human rights protection.

“I am proud of the dedication and diversity of our CAF members, as well as their remarkable contributions to the international effort to stabilize and maintain peace and provide humanitarian relief in Haiti during its difficult recent history with conflict and natural disasters,” said Colonel Claude Desgagné, Operation HAMLET Task Force Commander.

The ceremony was also attended by André Frenette, Ambassador of Canada in Haiti; Brigadier-General Martin Girard, Military Advisor, Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN; and Brigadier-General Georges-Pierre Monchotte, MINUSTAH Police Commissioner.

The Government of Canada also marked the end of Canada’s participation in this mission with the donation of 651 sets of ballistic plates to the Haitian National Police. These plates will increase the level of bullet protection from small arms for their officers, equipping them to continue the work that participating nations have carried out under MINUSTAH.

Deployed earlier in 2017, the five CAF members that made up the final Operation HAMLET rotation followed in the footsteps of 25 rotations of CAF members who came before them and worked to bring peace and stability to Haiti over the years.

MINUSTAH was stood up in response to political instability in Haiti. It aimed to restore a secure and stable environment, to promote the political process, to strengthen Haiti’s government institutions and rule-of-law-structures, as well as to promote and to protect human rights.

Canada’s early participation in MINUSTAH began with Operation HALO in 2004. Six CH-146 Griffon helicopters with air and ground crew, a company of soldiers from the Royal Canadian Regiment, and National Control and National Support Elements made up the 500-person Canadian contingent. Later that year, these forces were transferred to MINUSTAH and remained operational until end-July with members returning to Canada by mid-August 2004.

Canada’s primary contribution to MINUSTAH has been Task Force Port-au-Prince, a team of staff officers serving in senior appointments in MINUSTAH’s military headquarters. The first rotation of Task Force Port-au-Prince consisted of two staff officers who deployed in May 2004 to join MINUSTAH Headquarters at its stand-up. The task force grew to three in 2005, and to five by 2010. These CAF members occupied key positions, including the Military Component Chief of Staff of MINUSTAH.

From June to November 2013, the CAF presence expanded to include a platoon of 34 personnel from 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Valcartier, who operated within a Brazilian Battalion to support the MINUSTAH mandate. The CAF members assisted Haitian security and stability efforts.

Throughout the 13 years of support to MINUSTAH, CAF members have supported a number of humanitarian efforts in Haiti. In 2004, the CAF participated in emergency relief operations resulting from heavy rains that killed at least 400 people. MINUSTAH worked to deliver supplies and maintain stability during this time.

Following the devastating earthquake of January 2010, the Government of Haiti appealed for help, and the international community immediately mounted an extensive long-term humanitarian operation. The CAF contributed a major joint task force under Operation HESTIA. At peak, the maritime, land and air components of this task force comprised about 2,050 personnel divided between Port-au-Prince, Léogâne and Jacmel. For a year, Task Force Port-au-Prince was increased to 10 personnel, reverting back to five during the summer of 2011.

CAF members have also conducted many projects in the community. These have included renovating schools, drilling wells, distributing clean drinking water, improving public infrastructure, and supporting a local orphanage.

“During our 13 years supporting MINUSTAH, our primary efforts helped enable the military and police components to reduce crime on the streets and reinforce the capacities of the Haitian National Police, which was key to Haiti’s development,” said Colonel Desgagné. “On a much smaller scale, but equally important and rewarding to us personally, was our work in the community through initiatives that previous rotations of CAF members started of their own volition. These initiatives allowed us to connect directly with Haitians, some amongst the most vulnerable, and show our commitment to the betterment of their country—building relationships and improving living conditions for the people of Haiti.”

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Image gallery

  • 29 June 2013. Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Corporal L'Écuyer and Corporal Morissette receive a gesture of appreciation from a child while on patrol. Canadian Forces members, in collaboration with Brazilian troops, are participating in stability and security efforts in Haiti. Photo: Canadian Armed Forces.
  • A group shot of military members, police, and civilians
  • A man hands a Canadian flag to a soldier.
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