At a press conference, Trudeau later said the two frigates would “assist Haiti’s National Police in their efforts to bring gang activity under control.” The mere presence of the ships in the bay of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince will deter the gangs from using the sea route for their criminal activities.

Trudeau told journalists “very concerned” about the situation in Haiti. Armed groups committed murders, rapes and kidnappings there and recruited children for their crimes. A large part of the responsibility for these abuses is borne by “a small number of powerful elite families who foment instability and finance violence for their own benefit and with terrible consequences for the Haitian people”.

As long as these circles are not held accountable for their “role in this terrible crisis in Haiti”, the situation will not improve, Trudeau warned. Canada is therefore trying to international sanctions against those responsible. Trudeau’s government added more Haitians to its sanctions list on Thursday, while also announcing further humanitarian aid to Haiti’s people.

Haiti has been suffering from humanitarian, economic and political crises for years and is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. In many places across the country, criminal gangs have taken de facto control. Last week, UN Human Rights Commissioner Volker Türk called for the stationing of an international force in Haiti to end this “nightmare come true”.