n a decisive move reverberating worldwide, the United Nations Security Council greenlit the deployment of international forces, steered by Kenya, to address the snowballing gang violence in Haiti.
Haiti Embraces the International Embrace
Over a year of pleas for global intervention culminated in unanimous approval by the Security Council. The gratitude of the Haitian people was palpable, with Prime Minister Ariel Henry expressing his appreciation through the social media platform X. The East African nation of Kenya, renowned for its peacekeeping efforts, was particularly lauded for spearheading this initiative.
The Mission Ahead
Distinct from the traditional UN peace mission, the Multinational Security Support (MSS) will operate under Kenyan oversight. This mission echoes past undertakings like the 2007 African Union foray into Somalia. Tasked with curbing violence, their immediate remit includes safeguarding vital public establishments, including airports and hospitals. Collaborative efforts with local law enforcement are also on the cards.
A Glimpse into Haiti’s Crisis
Haiti, bearing the brunt of an escalating crime wave, has witnessed 3,000 homicides and over 1,500 ransom kidnappings in just nine months this year. The aftermath of President Jovenel Moise’s assassination two years prior only intensified this strife. With 200,000 displaced citizens, half of the children, the nation’s educational and social fabric is tearing. Amidst this turmoil, the local security forces, hindered by scant resources and under-equipped infrastructure, find themselves outpaced by the escalating crime.
Kenya’s Role: Beyond Peacekeeping
Kenya, no stranger to peace missions, has shown an unwavering commitment to Haiti. Beyond mere pacification, Nairobi envisions a comprehensive rehabilitation of Haiti’s political, economic, and social landscape. With potential political dividends on the world stage and substantial benefits for Kenyan security forces, this mission also harbours strategic importance for Kenya.
Global Stance and Participation
While the international force deployment is met with resounding gratitude, notably from the White House, there are underlying concerns. Human rights advocates fear this move might inadvertently lend legitimacy to Haiti’s unelected leadership. But this hasn’t deterred nations like Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda from pledging their support, in addition to Kenya’s forces.
Treading with Caution: Learning from Past Interventions
Haiti’s history with international missions is tainted. The UN’s MINUSTAH endeavour from 2004-2017 grappled with grave controversies, from a cholera epidemic to allegations of child abandonment. The current MSS mission has proactively laid down directives for meticulous wastewater management and rapid probe mechanisms, especially concerning misconduct allegations. This reflects the UN’s commitment to avoiding past missteps and prioritising Haiti’s welfare.
As the world watches closely, the deployment of international forces, primarily led by Kenya, is a pivotal step in Haiti’s journey towards restoration. The effectiveness of this mission and its potential repercussions will undoubtedly shape the future of international peacekeeping and the course of Haiti’s revival.