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UN approves Kenya-led force to fight violence in Haiti

The resolution drafted by the U.S. was approved Monday with 13 votes in favor and two abstentions from Russia and China.
UN approves Kenya-led force to fight violence in Haiti
Posted at 4:15 PM, Oct 02, 2023

The U.N. Security Council voted Monday to send a multinational force to Haiti, led by Kenya, to help combat violent gangs in the troubled Caribbean country.

The resolution drafted by the U.S. was approved with 13 votes in favor and two abstentions from Russia and China.

The resolution authorizes the force to deploy for one year, with a review after nine months. It would mark the first time a force is deployed to Haiti since a U.N.-approved mission nearly 20 years ago.

A deployment date has not been set, although U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said a security mission to Haiti could deploy "in months."

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Alfred Mutua, told the BBC that the force should already be in Haiti by Jan. 1, 2024, "if not before then."

It wasn’t immediately clear how big the force would be. Kenya’s government has previously proposed sending 1,000 police officers. In addition, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda also have pledged to send personnel.

Last month, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden promised to provide logistics and $100 million to support the Kenyan-led force.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, said, "The global community owes a debt of gratitude to Kenya for answering Haiti’s call to serve as the lead nation of the mission, and likewise to the other nations that have pledged to join this mission alongside Kenya, including Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda. We thank these nations for their leadership and willingness to bring relief to Haiti."

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The representative of the Russian Federation, Vassily Nebenzia, said he does not have any objections in principle to the resolution, but said that sending an armed force to a country even at its request "is an extreme measure that must be thought through."

He said multiple requests for details including the use of force and when it would be withdrawn "went unanswered" and criticized what he said was a rushed decision. "Authorizing another use of force in Haiti … is short-sighted" without the details sought by the Russian Federation, he said.

China’s representative, Zhang Jun, said he hopes countries leading the mission will hold in-depth consultations with Haitian officials on the deployment of the security force, adding that a "legitimate, effective, accountable government" needs to be in place in Haiti for any resolution to have effect.

He also said the resolution does not contain a feasible or credible timetable for the deployment of the force.

UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said, "The Haitian government and civil society, the UN, and other international partners have long called for this mission, which will provide critical international assistance for the Haitian National Police to address gang violence and pave the way toward long-term stability in Haiti."

International intervention in Haiti has a complicated history. A U.N.-approved stabilization mission to Haiti that started in June 2004 was marred by a sexual abuse scandal and the introduction of cholera. The mission ended in October 2017.

Critics of Monday's approved Kenyan-led mission also have noted that police in the east Africa country have long been accused of using torture, deadly force and other abuses. Top Kenyan officials visited Haiti in August as part of a reconnaissance mission as the U.S. worked on a draft of the resolution.

The vote comes nearly a year after Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 top government officials requested the immediate deployment of a foreign armed force as the government struggled to control gangs amid a surge in killings, rapes and kidnappings.

From Jan. 1 until Aug. 15, more than 2,400 people in Haiti were reported killed, more than 950 kidnapped and another 902 injured, according to the most recent U.N. statistics.

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