UN to approve 1-year Kenyan police mission in Haiti

The United Nations Security Council is set to vote on a resolution on Monday, October 2, that could authorize a UN-backed multinational force, led by Kenya, to be deployed to Haiti.

The mission’s primary objective is to combat gangs and restore security in the troubled nation.

The Security Council will develop a framework and authorize a one-year deployment of this international force, with a review scheduled after nine months.

If the resolution is approved by the UN, Kenya plans to deploy its force to Haiti by January 2024. The leaders of the mission will be required to inform the council about the mission’s goals, rules of engagement, financial needs, and other important matters before a full deployment can take place.

“The 15 members of the Council will consider approving what is known as a Chapter VII provision of the UN Charter that authorizes the use of force after all other measures to maintain international peace and security are exhausted,” reports UN News.

Several Caribbean nations and members of the CARICOM regional group, including Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda, have expressed their readiness to support the mission led by Kenya’s force.

The Bahamas has committed 150 personnel to support the multinational force, while Jamaica, unable to reach Kenya’s offer of 1,000 personnel, pledged to contribute as much as they can.

Only officers from formation units in the National Police Service of Kenya (NPS) will be deployed to Haiti. The US government previously promised to provide logistics and Sh100 million to support this Kenyan-led force.

The resolution also mentions the intention of the Security Council to impose additional sanctions on Jimmy Cherizier, known as “Barbecue,” who heads Haiti’s largest gang alliance. Cherizier, a former police officer, has recently warned that he would resist any armed force suspected of abuses.

The mission is expected to draw officers from units such as the Rapid Deployment Unit, Anti-Stock Theft Unit, General Service Unit, and Border Patrol Unit in Kenya. These officers have paramilitary training and are likely to work well with personnel from other countries participating in the mission.

A Kenyan assessment team, led by Deputy Inspector General of Administration Police Noor Gabow, visited Haiti and the UN headquarters in August 2023 and gave the operation a green light. Police commanders have been meeting to prepare for presentations before the National Security Council and Parliament for possible approval.

The proposed resolution drafted by the US states that the force’s role would include building the capacity of local police, planning and conducting joint security support operations, and securing critical infrastructure sites and transit locations such as airports, ports, and key intersections in Haiti.

The Security Council’s approval would authorize the force to provide operational support to Haiti’s National Police, which is currently underfunded and under-resourced, with only about 10,000 active officers in a country of more than 11 million people.

The force’s mission would also focus on improving security conditions in Haiti by countering gangs and helping secure critical infrastructure, which has been disrupted by powerful gangs that control key roads in the country.

The Security Council’s vote would grant the force the authority to take “urgent temporary measures on an exceptional basis” to prevent the loss of life and help maintain public safety.

Kenya’s involvement in the mission has received support from world leaders, with US President Joe Biden praising President Ruto for the initiative.

Kenya established diplomatic relations with Haiti on September 21, following an agreement signed by President William Ruto and Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

As of August 15, more than 2,400 people in Haiti had been reported killed, with over 950 kidnapped and 902 injured. Additionally, more than 200,000 people have been displaced by violence, with many living in makeshift shelters after gangs ravaged their communities.

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