Kenyan police officers deploy to lead UN force in Haiti


Hundreds of Kenyan police officers departed for Haiti to lead a multinational force aimed at combating powerful gangs responsible for a surge in deadly violence this year.

The deployment, which marks Kenya’s significant contribution to global peace and security, has not been without controversy.

President William Ruto addressed the officers, emphasizing the importance of their mission.

“Your performance in this assignment must be a firm statement of Kenya’s capability and contribution to global peace and security and a clear response to doubters and naysayers about your competence, integrity, and professionalism, as well as our nation’s credentials. You are undertaking a vital mission that transcends borders and cultures. Your presence in Haiti will bring hope and relief to communities torn apart by violence and ravaged by disorder.”

Despite a court ruling deeming the deployment unconstitutional, President Ruto’s administration is moving forward with the mission.

Critics have raised concerns about the history of alleged abuses by Kenyan police officers.

The initial group of 400 officers is part of the 1,000 that Kenya plans to send to Haiti for the United Nations-led force.

The send-off ceremony on Monday was closed to the media.

A pending court case seeks to block the deployment, with an initial ruling citing the absence of a reciprocal agreement between Kenya and Haiti as a constitutional issue.

Nevertheless, US President Joe Biden has praised Kenya’s leadership in the multinational force during Ruto’s recent state visit to Washington.

The United States has pledged $300 million to support the force, with Biden noting that a US troop presence in Haiti could raise problematic questions.

The violence in Haiti has escalated significantly, with over 2,500 people killed or injured in the first three months of the year.

Starting in late February, the violence displaced more than half a million people, with gangs now controlling at least 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and key roads.

The violence and instability have led to the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was trapped outside the country when the international airport was closed.

The deployment comes at a time when Kenyan police are under scrutiny.

Just last week, watchdog groups accused Kenyan police of using excessive force during anti-government protests, resulting in the deaths of two people.

One protester was shot by a suspected plainclothes officer, while the other was killed by a tear gas canister thrown by police.

Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority is investigating these incidents, which also saw more than 200 people injured.


Africanews/Hauwa M.

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