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17 Nov, 2023 10:20

Kenya ready for peacekeeping mission in Haiti

Nairobi will send police officers to combat gang violence in the Caribbean nation
Kenya ready for peacekeeping mission in Haiti

Kenyan lawmakers have approved a government plan to send about 1,000 police officers to Haiti to counter gang violence, as part of a UN-backed mission.

The United Nations will cover all expenses, and the officers will be deployed in phases, starting next year.

Kenya previously requested $237.5 million from UN member states to prepare its personnel for the scheme, and the US has pledged $100 million. It is expected that the Haiti mission's overall budget will be $600 million. 

Senegal, Chad, Burundi, Chile, Jamaica, Ecuador, and Barbados are among the countries that will be joining the peacekeeping effort.

Around 300 armed gangs are currently active in Haiti, controlling parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as large areas of the countryside. The economy has been paralysed by rampant crime, with widespread kidnappings, extortion and infighting between rival groups. 

According to a joint committee of Kenya’s Senate and National Assembly, restoring law and order in Haiti and providing humanitarian assistance will require at least 2,500 officers.

“The proposed deployment is anchored on the responsibilities of Kenya as a UN member state and as part of the global community of nations. Historically, Kenya has been a leading participant in providing solutions to global security challenges,” lawmakers said in the report.

The Thirdway Alliance, a small opposition party, has condemned the plan as unconstitutional, arguing that only the military can be deployed abroad, not the police. 

Speaking to local TV last month, Kenya's main opposition leader, Raila Odinga claimed: "Haiti is at the doorstep of the United States which is the most powerful nation in the world. What is it that is so unique about Kenya that it is being chosen to lead the multinational force in Haiti?"

The plan has been defended by Kenya's President William Ruto, who stated that "Africa is keen to contribute to the freedom and security of Haiti."

In 2022, Haiti requested external assistance, citing its inability to tackle criminal groups. The security and humanitarian situation in has deteriorated sharply since the assassination of President Jovenel Mois in July 2021.

An armed security assistance mission in Haiti was established by the UN Security Council in early October, but will not be an official UN peacekeeping mission. The Haitian National Police and Peacekeepers are expected to collaborate, providing training and equipping local officers.