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US Pledges to Support Kenya-led Police Force in Haiti

US Pledges to Support Kenya-led Police Force in Haiti

The United States on Monday said it would support a multinational police force led by Kenya to be deployed in Haiti, including by spearheading a push for the UN Security Council to authorize the mission.

“We are committed to finding the resources to support this multinational force,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told the press, adding it was “too early” to specify what aid, whether financial or material, Washington might provide.

Kenya announced Saturday that it was willing to head up a multinational force in Haiti, which is sinking under compounding humanitarian, political and security crises that have overwhelmed its weak government and security forces.

Elections have not been held in the Caribbean country, the most vulnerable in the Western Hemisphere, since 2016.

Gangs control roughly 80 percent of the capital Port-au-Prince, and violent crimes including kidnappings for ransom, carjackings, rapes and armed thefts are common.

Both Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the UN’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have called for an international intervention. Up to now, no country had stepped forward, partly out of fear of finding itself in a bloody quagmire.

A UN peacekeeping mission was in operation in Haiti from 2004 to 2017 but fell out of favor after a cholera outbreak traced to infected UN personnel claimed thousands of lives.

Now, Nairobi is pledging 1,000 police officers to help train and support their Haitian counterparts in combating the gang violence.
Such a deployment would need formal approval from local authorities and the UN Security Council.

“The United States — which takes up the rotating presidency of the Security Council on Tuesday — plans to introduce a resolution with Ecuador authorizing the force in the near future,” Miller said.

Kenya would also need to send a delegation to Haiti to evaluate the conditions under which the force would deploy.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been active in discussions around a proposed international intervention and spoke with Kenyan President William Ruto on Saturday.

A high-level State Department official, Todd Robinson, visited Nairobi in recent days to help finalize the details of Kenya’s plans.

This week, the United States ordered nonessential embassy personnel and their families to leave Haiti as soon as possible.

On Thursday, a young American nurse and her infant child were kidnapped in Haiti, according to the Christian aid group for which she works.

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