July 15, 2024

The president of Kenya said Thursday his East African nation is ready to lead a multinational security support mission into Haiti, and called on the United Nations to urgently deliver the appropriate framework to make it happen.

“Kenya is ready to pay its part in full and join with a coalition of other nations of good will, and there are many, as a good friend and true sibling of Haiti,” President William Ruto said during general debate at the U.N. in New York. “We urge the United Nations to urgently deliver an appropriate framework to facilitate the deployment of a multinational security support as part of a holistic response to Haiti’s challenge.

“We call on the Security Council to contribute positively by approving a resolution on a Chapter Seven that tailors the security support mission to the specific needs of Haiti and its people,” he added.

Until now, Ruto had said that his administration was “positively considering” helping Haiti, which has seen an escalation in violence and kidnappings by armed gangs since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse

With the Haiti police force ill-equipped and outgunned, armed groups have been driving resident out of neighborhoods in the capital of Port-au-Prince and the neighboring Artibonite Valley. Earlier this week, some gang members boldly took to the streets of the capital, demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Ariel Henry and calling on Haitians to join them.

Despite the deteriorating landscape, the international community appears to be no hurry to approve the deployment of an international force into the country. Ahead of the key annual U.N. meeting week, China asked for a pause in discussions over a draft resolution, written by the United States and Ecuador, to allow a Kenya-led force.

Kenya, which sent an assessment team to Port-au-Prince, said last month its involvement would depend on getting a Security Council resolution authorizing the mission of a non-United Nations force. The team also told the Haitian government during the visit that it would need a minimum of 2,000 officers to be part of the mission. Kenya had said it would provide 1,000 of its police officers to staff the mission.

On Thursday, following meetings with Henry, Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Ruto made his commitment clear. Kenya, he said, had heard the cry of its “brothers and sisters,” who were the first people to win their freedom by breaking the bondage of slavery from their colonial master, France.

“Doing nothing in the face of the isolation and economic distress and betrayal of the people of Haiti is out of question,” he said. “Inaction is no longer an option.”

The same way in which the world has mobilized on behalf of Ukraine and countries facing the shocks of climate change, they must do so on behalf of Haiti, Ruto said, in order to help the country restore peace and security.

The resolution authorizing a Kenya-led support mission into Haiti, Ruto said, should be part of a comprehensive strategy that delivers humanitarian aid supporting livelihoods, instituting reforms and fostering a political process “guided and owned by Haitians, all in the name of enabling free and fair elections to convene in a reasonable time frame.”

Ruto hinted that he may have achieved at least one goal in his request. “Many countries,” he said, without offering specifics, have stepped forward to take part and he is “encouraged” by this.

In his exchange with Blinken before their meeting, Ruto said that on Haiti, “We are here to have a conversation on the how, the nitty-gritty so that we can be able to make a useful contribution and consolidate all the efforts to make sure that we get success.”

On Wednesday, Haiti’s foreign affairs ministry announced that the Caribbean nation had established diplomatic ties with Kenya, an important step for the mission to become a reality.

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