The U.N. Security Council has approved the deployment of a multinational force, led by Kenya, to assist Haiti in combating a surge of gang violence. This decision marks the first time in nearly two decades that an armed force has been greenlit for the Caribbean nation.
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Security Council’s Decision
The proposal, co-drafted by the U.S. and Ecuador, garnered 13 votes in favor, with China and the Russian Federation abstaining. The force will be in Haiti for a year, subject to a review after nine months. Funded by voluntary contributions, the U.S. has committed to up to $200 million.
This decision comes a year after Haiti’s plea for an armed presence to address the surge in gang violence and to pave the way for delayed elections. Haiti’s National Police, consisting of approximately 10,000 active officers, faces challenges combating gangs in a country with a population surpassing 11 million.
Jean Victor Généus, Haiti’s foreign affairs minister, recognized the resolution as an emblem of solidarity, giving hope to the beleaguered Haitian populace. While a precise deployment date remains uncertain, Kenyan and U.S. officials anticipate the mission’s onset within the next few months.
Kenya has mooted deploying 1,000 police officers, while countries like Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda have also pledged personnel support.
Reservations and Concerns
Russian and Chinese ambassadors to the U.N. expressed reservations about the resolution. They called for thorough contemplation before deploying armed forces and highlighted the need for a robust, effective government in Haiti.
Emphasizing the urgency of addressing underlying socioeconomic issues, Généus pointed to extreme poverty as a significant challenge, exacerbating gang recruitments.
Haiti’s Socioeconomic Challenges
Roughly 60% of Haiti’s citizens live on less than $2 a day. The goal of this intervention is to restore tranquility, facilitating the hosting of elections that have been on hold, especially after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has since governed with international endorsement, but without a democratically elected legislative body.
Past interventions in Haiti by international entities have been contentious. Notably, the U.N.-approved stabilization mission from 2004.