The families of Canadian diplomats in Cuba will return home permanently due to unexplained health concerns, Canada’s government announced Monday.
Cuba will now be designated an “unaccompanied post” meaning that the families of diplomatic staff will not be able to live with them while they are assigned to the country.
“The Government of Canada continues to investigate the potential causes of unusual health symptoms reported in 2017 by some Canadian diplomatic staff and dependents posted to Havana, Cuba,” Global Affairs Canada wrote in a statement. “The symptoms include dizziness, headaches and lack of ability to concentrate, amongst others.”
The US State Department evacuated non-essential personnel and families from Cuba in 2017, after claims a sophisticated device that operated outside the range of audible sound had been used in an “acoustic attack” on US embassy staff, with Canada also reporting “unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and US diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana.”
After more than a year of inquiries, State Department and federal investigators were unable to attribute the source or cause of the ailments, apart from that they “were most likely related to trauma from a non-natural source.”
At least 24 diplomats and family members were affected, some with damage that they may carry for years, officials testified at a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing in January.
While the incidents remain a mystery, State Department officials who testified said they believe Cuba has clearer information about who is behind what they classified as “attacks” on US diplomats working on the communist-run island.
The Cuban government has called the alleged attacks “science fiction” and complained that Washington has not shared much in the way of medical details or let their investigators inspect the diplomatic residences where many of the incidents took place.
In its statement this week, Global Affairs Canada said the country “has a positive and constructive relationship with Cuba and has received close cooperation from the Cuban authorities since health concerns of Canadians serving in Cuba first surfaced in the spring of 2017.”
Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet commented on Canada’s withdrawal of diplomatic families.
CNN’s Laura Koran contributed reporting.