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Benin joins Kenya in fight against gangs in Haiti

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024 03:23 | By
United States Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. PHOTO/Print
United States Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. PHOTO/Print

Benin has offered to contribute 2,000 troops to a UN-approved Kenyan-led multinational security force that will be deployed to fight gang violence in Haiti.


The announcement was made on Monday during a press briefing held in Georgetown, Guyana, by the United States Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.


Thomas-Greenfield said she had discussed with Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry and other partners about “the urgency of deploying” the force.


“This mission is key to helping the Haitian National Police restore peace and security, enabling free and fair elections, and alleviating the humanitarian crisis,” Thomas-Greenfield said.


The deployment was to happen this month, but it was delayed after it was blocked by a Kenyan court in January.


The court argued that the government lacked authority to send police officers outside Kenya.
But shortly after the ruling, President William Ruto assured that Kenya would still send the police officers after completing paperwork to satisfy the court’s demands.


A US statement issued on the side-lines of the G20 summit in Rio de Janeiro last week had announced “financial, personnel, and in-kind commitments to the mission” from Benin, France and Canada, the latter which later announced 80.5 million Canadian dollars ($60 million) for the mission.


The United States has itself committed $200 million and pledged to boost efforts to stem the flow of illicit arms to the Caribbean region. The UN estimates firearms held by Haitian gangs are largely smuggled from the United States.


It has emerged the Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry is set to fly to Nairobi to iron out issues barring the deployment of 1,000 police officers to help restore peace in his country.


On Sunday, February 25, the Haitian Prime Minister’s Office revealed that Henry will visit Kenya after attending the 46th Ordinary Meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of State and Government in Guyana, which is scheduled to end tomorrow.


“This Sunday, February 25, Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry left the capital for Georgetown, Guyana, to attend the 46th Ordinary Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of State and Government which will be held from February 25-28, 2024,” read the statement in part. “Next, the Prime Minister will travel to Nairobi, Kenya, to finalise modalities for the deployment of the MSS with Kenyan authorities and those of other countries in the African continent.”


This is after Haiti’s government announced on February 14 that it is working on an official agreement with Kenyan officials to secure the long-awaited deployment of a police force from Nairobi.


Officials from Kenya and Haiti met in the U.S. to set a deadline for the arrival of Kenyan forces as well as drafting a memorandum of understanding, officials said.


The Kenyan delegation was led by former Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet who is also the deputy National Security advisor to Ruto.


The delay comes after the high court blocked the U.N-backed deployment on January 26.
Henry made a request for a security deployment in October 2022, which was only approved by the U.N. Security Council a year later.


Henry has faced widespread protests calling for his resignation as the country continues to be gripped by gang violence during his tenure.


The UN has said that 800 people have been killed, injured or kidnapped in Haiti during the month of January, representing a threefold increase to January 2023.


It is understood, as suggested by the court on the need for reciprocity, Haiti had sent a memorandum of understanding to Kenya on the need to deploy the police officers there.


Kenya’s law provides for a mechanism in which police officers can be deployed abroad if there is a reciprocal arrangement with the host country


Justice Chacha Mwita said Kenya’s National Security Council, which is led by the president, does not have the authority to deploy regular police outside the country.


“It is not contested that there is no reciprocal arrangement between Kenya and Haiti and for that reason, there can be no deployment of police to that country,” Mwita said.


An unprecedented surge in gang violence is plaguing Haiti, with the number of victims killed, injured and kidnapped.


Some 300 gangs control an estimated 80 per cent of the capital and accounted for 83 per cent of last year’s killings and injuries.


Kenya plans to deploy more than 1,000 officers to Haiti to help combat gangs there.
The teams are from the Rapid Deployment Unit, Anti Stock Theft Unit, General Service Unit, and Border Patrol Unit.

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