US, Kenyan and Haitian officials meet on sidelines to discuss security mission to Haiti
By Frances Robles
American, Kenyan and Haitian delegations are meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this week in the hopes of hashing out the details of Kenya’s offer to lead a security mission to Haiti.
Gangs have taken over swaths of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes to avoid rampant killings and kidnappings. In response to an international plea for help, Kenya proposed a mission of up to 2,000 people, including 1,000 members of its police force. It remains unclear what other countries have agreed to supply the other half.
The United States and Ecuador are expected to submit a joint resolution to the U.N. Security Council next week officially proposing the Kenyan mission.
In his speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, President Joe Biden urged the members to authorize the mission.
“The people of Haiti cannot wait much longer,” he said.
But the core purpose of the international security mission emerged as a key stumbling block after the Kenyans initially suggested that it be used to guard important government infrastructure, such as ports, in order to enable the flow of humanitarian assistance and commerce.
A senior State Department official who was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive discussions said the Kenyans have also agreed to provide operational support in the Haitian National Police’s battle against gangs and also agreed to help strengthen the Haitian Police.
The Kenyan Foreign Ministry did not return requests for comment.
The United States has said it will also provide support — but not soldiers. Instead, it is offering financing and in-kind support from the Department of Defense, which would include logistics, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, the senior official said.
Haitians are sensitive to the idea of any kind of international security effort, particularly given the problems that arose with past U.N. peacekeeping forces. Poor sanitation at a U.N. compound brought cholera to Haiti, and human rights organizations denounced the number of children that U.N. soldiers fathered and abandoned.
This week’s talks include accountability measures; efforts to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse; and cholera and improved water standards and sanitation, the U.S. official said.
A spokesperson for the Haitian delegation did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.