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Faith Nyasuguta

A contingent of Kenyan police officers has arrived in Haiti to begin a United Nations-backed mission aimed at combating powerful armed gangs that have taken control of much of the Caribbean nation. The officers, waving Kenyan flags and dressed in camouflage uniforms, landed at Toussaint Louverture International Airport near Port-au-Prince on Tuesday. More than 80 percent of the city is under gang control.

US President Joe Biden expressed gratitude to the countries contributing personnel and financial support to this mission, highlighting the $360 million the US has provided. “I commend — and am deeply grateful to — all the countries that have pledged personnel and financial support to this mission,” Biden said in a statement.

The UN has called on the international community to assist Haiti with a security force, but the initiative has been met with skepticism due to the country’s fraught history with foreign interventions. Critics are particularly concerned about the lack of specific details regarding the mission’s objectives and operations.

Romain Le Cour Grandmaison, a senior expert at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, questioned the mission’s clarity and transparency. “What is going to happen vis-a-vis the gangs? Is it a static mission? Is it a moving mission? All those details are still missing, and I think it’s about time that there’s actually transparency,” Grandmaison stated.

/CourtHouse News/

Despite these concerns, Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille welcomed the mission. “The country is going through very difficult times,” he said. “We’re going to start working little by little to retake the country.” Conille, who was appointed last month as part of Haiti’s transitional government, emphasized the necessity of international support in stabilizing the nation.

Accompanying Conille was Monica Juma, a security adviser to Kenyan President William Ruto. Juma described the Kenyan forces as “agents of peace, of stability, of hope.”

However, the Kenyan mission to Haiti coincides with significant unrest at home. On the same day the forces landed in Haiti, police in Nairobi opened fire on protesters attempting to storm the Kenyan parliament, resulting in several deaths and dozens of injuries. This incident has raised questions about the efficacy and readiness of Kenyan forces to operate in Haiti.

“The police should be able to operate well in their own country, but they can’t,” said Enock Alumasi Makanga, a former Kenyan police officer now working in private security. “How do you think they can manage then when they arrive in Haiti?”

Addressing these concerns, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller assured that the Kenyan personnel in Haiti have been vetted, emphasizing the mission’s commitment to human rights.

The Kenyan police are the first of an anticipated 2,500-strong international force, with contributions expected from 15 other countries. This mission follows a previous UN operation in Haiti from 2004 to 2017, which faced criticism due to allegations of sexual assault and a cholera outbreak that killed approximately 10,000 people.

In the years since, gangs have grown more powerful in Haiti, filling the void left by a weakened government. Violence has displaced a record 578,074 people this year, and nearly half of Haiti’s population faces severe hunger.


The international community watches closely as this new mission begins, hoping to restore stability and security to Haiti, even as challenges and controversies remain on the ground.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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