The United Nations Security Council Monday acquiesced to the sending of an international force to help Haiti’s authorities get the country back on track amid mounting gang violence. Thirteen of the 15 council members voted for the mission. China and Russia abstained.
“The vote on this text represents significant progress towards resolving the multidimensional crisis that Haiti is going through,” Haitian Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus told the council. “It is a glimmer of hope for the people that have for too long been suffering the consequences of a difficult political, socioeconomic, security and humanitarian situation.”
Drafted by the United States and Ecuador, the resolution authorizes the mission for an initial period of one year. Kenya has pledged about a thousand police officers for the mission but it is yet unknown how long it will take before the troops are actually deployed. “We hope as soon as possible because the people are suffering,” Geneus said. “The gangs are really raising hell in Haiti, so they have to be stopped as soon as possible, with all means necessary.”
“We are steadfast in the belief that your adoption of this resolution will be a seminal contribution to the renaissance of Haiti’s security,” Kenyan Ambassador Martin Kimani told the council. Kenya’s legislature still must approve its offer to lead the multinational force.
The Bahamas, Jamaica, and Antigua and Barbuda would also contribute personnel while several other countries were waiting for a mandate from the council before stepping forward.
The United States has pledged US$200 million in support. “While this action represents important progress, the United States renews its urgent call to political actors, including Prime Minister [Ariel] Henry and members of the opposition, to broaden consensus and restore democratic order in Haiti,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has repeatedly asked the UN for help as armed gangs control much of Port-au-Prince and have spread to other parts of the country. Kidnappings, human trafficking, and sexual violence are commonplace in the Caribbean nation.
Haiti has had difficulties in the past with UN peacekeepers. After the 2010 earthquake, a cholera epidemic ravaged the country infecting more than 800,000 people and killing an estimated 10,000. The outbreak was traced to sewage from a U.N. peacekeeping camp that contaminated a main water supply. There have also been scores of paternity suits against UN troops.