The United Nations Security Council has granted permission to deploy a multinational force to assist Haiti, currently battling an intense surge in gang violence.
Out of the 15-member council, 13 endorsed the mission to be spearheaded by Kenya, while Russia and China abstained, expressing reservations about foreign interference in Haiti’s affairs.
Due to surging gang violence, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry had been seeking international aid for over a year.
Currently, around 5.2 million Haitians, nearly half of the nation’s population, need humanitarian assistance. This year alone, gang-related violence has displaced about 200,000 people, caused 3,000 deaths, and led to 1,500 kidnappings.
The country’s stability was further jeopardized last month when prominent gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier announced his ambitions to topple Prime Minister Henry’s government.
To address the burgeoning crisis, the UN’s resolution gives the green light to form and deploy the “Multinational Security Support” (MSS) mission for a year.
Its primary aims are to augment the capabilities of the Haitian police, ensure public safety, and safeguard essential infrastructure. This initiative will undergo a review after nine months.
Jean Victor Geneus, Haiti’s Foreign Minister, expressed gratitude for the resolution, stating, “More than just a simple vote, this is in fact an expression of solidarity with a population in distress. It’s a glimmer of hope for the people that have for too long been suffering.”
Kenya had earlier pledged to support by offering to send 1,000 police officers to aid Haitian forces. Other nations like Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua, and Barbuda have also signaled their commitment.
The path to this resolution wasn’t devoid of challenges. Many countries, notably the United States, showed hesitation in spearheading such an endeavor.
Kenya’s offer to lead the mission drew scrutiny, especially from organizations such as Amnesty International, due to concerns about Kenya’s human rights record.
Previous UN involvement in Haiti has made many Haitians cautious, especially after allegations that the last UN mission in 2017 introduced cholera, resulting in around 10,000 deaths. It was also alleged that the troops sent by the UN were involved in widespread sexual abuse, but since they had immunity, no one could be charged.
Despite apprehensions, global officials see the recent UN resolution as pivotal.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan commented after the resolution, “We have taken an important step today, but our work to support the people of Haiti is not done.”
Sullivan added, “It is now crucial that we focus on making progress in mobilizing the international support necessary to deploy this mission swiftly, effectively, and safely.”