Haiti: the creation of an international force is taking shape to fight against gang violence

After months of negotiations, the outlines of an international police force to help Haiti, plagued by gang violence, are beginning to take shape

Haiti: the creation of an international force is taking shape to fight against gang violence

After months of negotiations, the outlines of an international police force to help Haiti, plagued by gang violence, are beginning to take shape. The United States announced on Friday, September 22, that several countries intended to contribute, under the leadership of Kenya, to this force that Haiti has been requesting for a year. But its implementation will undoubtedly take a few more months, without forgetting an additional delay for its effective deployment, to the great despair of the Haitian Prime Minister.

“The daily life of the Haitian people is painful, which is why the Security Council (…) must act urgently by authorizing the deployment of a multinational security support mission, police and military,” implored Ariel Henry on Friday , at the United Nations (UN) platform, while a vote is expected shortly, perhaps next week. “I ask the international community to act, and to act quickly,” he insisted, listing the horrors that gangs are causing his population to experience.

“Kidnapping for ransom, looting, arson, recent massacres, sexual and gender-based violence, organ trafficking, human trafficking, homicides, extrajudicial executions, recruitment of child soldiers, road blockades main ones,” he said.

Ten to twelve countries involved

The gangs, who control most of the capital of this poor Caribbean country and spread a reign of terror, have killed more than 2,400 people since the start of the year, according to the UN. The Haitian national police, however, are not able to confront them, hence the idea of ​​a multinational force in support of this country which is experiencing multiple political and humanitarian crises.

“Ten to twelve countries have made concrete offers for this mission” of security support to the police in Haiti, said the number two of the American State Department, Victoria Nuland, after a ministerial meeting on Haiti on the sidelines of the General assembly. She declined to name the countries but Jamaica, the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda have indicated they will participate. Kenya, which volunteered to lead the force, offered to provide 1,000 security force personnel. The United States intends to provide significant logistical support – air transport, communications, housing, medical – but not ground security forces a priori.

“This support mission will not replace progress on the political level,” declared the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, during the meeting, saying he hoped that this force could be “deployed within a few months” because “there is no time to lose.” The Secretary of State also announced that Joe Biden's government would ask Congress for $100 million (approximately €94 million) to finance it. This must have a significant police component but also a military component in support of the Haitian police.

Its mission will be to provide operational support to the police, ensure the security of critical installations and traffic routes and strengthen the police in the long term. It is now awaiting a green light from the UN Security Council to be set up, even if it would not be carried out under the UN flag.

Haitians “have suffered for too long”

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said she "hopes that members of the Security Council will admit that they cannot use Haiti as a pawn, because [Haitians] have suffered for too long, between hands of far too many countries”, without being more precise.

A draft resolution prepared by the United States and Ecuador must be discussed next week at the UN, Ms. Nuland said, expressing “strong support” for this text. At the UN on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden called on the Security Council to “authorize now” the sending of a multinational force to Haiti because “the people of Haiti cannot wait any longer”.

His Kenyan counterpart William Ruto did the same on Thursday, deeming it “out of the question” to abandon a population terrorized by gangs.

For almost a year, Ariel Henry, weakened by the lack of elections in his country since 2016, has been calling for such a force to be sent. But the international community, burned by past experiences and the risks of finding itself trapped in a deadly quagmire, is struggling to mobilize.