Following an international appeal for help to crisis-torn Haiti, Kenya's Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua said in a statement Saturday that his country was ready to participate in a multinational force to curb the escalating violence in the Caribbean country.
Mutua's announcement can be perceived as a direct answer to United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres who said earlier this month that “On the humanitarian front, the needs are increasing, but the international response is not” as armed gangs and local police keep clashing, with thousands displaced from their homes.
“At the request of Friends of Haiti Group of Nations, Kenya has accepted to positively consider leading a Multi-National Force to Haiti,” Mutua said. “Kenya’s commitment is to deploy a contingent of 1,000 police officers to help train and assist Haitian police to restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations,” he added while insisting that his country’s proposal still needs a UN Security Council mandate, in addition to the authorization from Kenyan authorities. “An Assessment Mission by a Task Team of the Kenya Police is scheduled within the next few weeks,” Mutua said.
Last Thursday, the United States issued a Level 4 (Do Not Travel) Advisory on Haiti, advising its officials and families as well as non-essential workers, to leave the Caribbean nation as soon as possible on commercial flights. The advisory also asked other US nationals not to travel to Haiti, adding that if they must travel there, they should register with the “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)…a free service that allows USA citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest USA Embassy or Consulate so that we can provide important security and other information to the USA citizen community in Haiti.”
In the first quarter of this year, the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commission (OHCHR) reported that “at least 160,000 people have been displaced…531 people were killed, 300 injured and 277 kidnapped in gang-related incidents that took place mainly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, according to information gathered by the Human Rights Service of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti.”
Guterres has urged the Security Council to authorize the immediate deployment of an international force to assist the Haitian National Police in its fight against gangs and insisted on the need to form such a squad. Last year, he proposed that one or more nations send a “rapid action force” to support Haiti’s security services.
“I am deeply concerned about the extreme vulnerability of individuals and communities to these predatory gangs and in particular the disproportionate impact of the violence on women and girls,” said Guterres during his trip to Port-au-Prince, the country's capital surrounded by armed groups preventing access to the northern and southern regions. These gangs dominate access routes to water, food, health care, and other services.