Belizean Soldiers Return from Intense Training, Ready for Peacekeeping in Haiti

Belizean Soldiers Return from Intense Training, Ready for Peacekeeping in Haiti

After undergoing intense military training in Jamaica, fifty Belizean soldiers are back in the country and ready for peacekeeping efforts in Haiti. The Belize Defense Force and Belize Coast Guard members completed a specialized training exercise led by the Canadian Armed Forces at the Fort Augusta Prison in Jamaica on Friday. The exercise dubbed Trogon Shield is part of a CARICOM Multinational Security Support Mission geared at bringing stability to Haiti. During the monthly exercise, the troops were able to receive training in several areas, according to BDF Commandant Brigadier General Azariel Loria.

General Azariel Loria, Commandant, Brigadier General, Belize Defence Force: “The training that they underwent is mostly to safeguard critical infrastructure and how to confront the gangs in Haiti. They also conducted quite a few amount of human rights training, the Geneva Convention, and how to approach them respecting their human rights and dignity. In the area of the sea saga, I think that they did something a bit different that I could recall. Perhaps the training was a bit more specialized, but all in all, and in principle, the Government of Belize supported such training and that deployment to Haiti. We continue to prepare our troops. We have drafted a 10-point document, well the ministry, 10 points and those points specify under what conditions we are going to deploy to Haiti and so far the training aspect of it is something that is being accomplished at the moment. We still have to wait and see. As people say, all options are on the table. In my case, as the Commander of the Belize Defense Force I’m just ensuring readiness of my troops and likewise the Commandant of the Coast Guard is doing the same. Ensuring readiness and that whenever if the government of Belize says yes go ahead and deploy we have to ensure that they are ready training wise, the welfare and administration, that everything is okay that they have all their allowances, their medical, if they are injured in theater that they will be looked after. All of that is what we are looking after, their welfare and administration. And it is incumbent on us to signal the Ministry of National Defence and the Government of Belize to say that we are ready but at this point in time we are in the process of getting ready. We are not there yet.”

Since the assassination of the Haitian President, gangs have been able to take control of major portions of the country and taken hundreds of hostages. The troops are now hoping that the training they received will aid in suppressing the gang violence and assist in installing a new Haitian government. General Loria says that currently there is hope for the country to resolve its issues, which would negate the need for assistance from Belize.

General Azariel Loria, Commandant, Brigadier General, Belize Defence Force: “Nine as I understand it in Haiti. They installed a provisional Prime Minister and I’m already reading in the news that there are infights that they are unhappy with that Prime Minister. He used to be a Minister of Sports in the past in 2006, 2011 there about that’s the period of time when he was minister as I get to understand.”

Reporter: Do you believe that issue will sort of underscore the need for the CARICOM task force? 

General Azariel Loria, Commandant, Brigadier General, Belize Defence Force: “Well there has to be a figurehead there in Haiti. For them or that individual to invite us in country because we are not going to deploy. I don’t think that any country would deploy to Haiti without an invitation. Back in 1994 we did so without an invitation but it was a UN mandate. It was very different than the UN mandate said countries willing to form the coalition along with the United States and other countries they can do so but in this case it’s a voluntary basis and it has to be upon the invitation of the host nation and if that is not the case how could we go and deploy.”

The training exercise featured personnel from the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, who have all been integrated into a CARICOM Joint Task Force construct.

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