US appeals for contributions to Haiti security mission

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service
Families take to the streets to escape the gangs in Solino, a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 18, 2024.

The United States on Saturday appealed for urgent support for a U.N.-backed law-and-order mission to Haiti, which has been thrown into doubt after a Kenyan court ruled against Nairobi’s plan to send its police to the gang-plagued nation.

“The United States’ commitment to the Haitian people remains unwavering,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

“We reaffirm our support of ongoing international efforts to deploy a Multinational Security Support mission for Haiti… and renew our calls for the international community to urgently provide support for this mission.”

Kenya had been meant to lead the mission but a High Court judge on Friday ruled that sending police to Haiti “contravenes the constitution and the law and is therefore unconstitutional, illegal and invalid.”

The Kenyan government has vowed to challenge the decision, a move noted by Miller in his statement.

Nairobi had previously said it was ready to provide up to 1,000 personnel — an offer welcomed by the United States and other nations that had ruled out putting their own forces on the ground.

“It is urgent that the international community respond to the unprecedented levels of gang violence and destabilizing forces preying upon the Haitian people,” Miller said.

“At the same time, we call for the restoration of democratic order through an inclusive political process in Haiti,” he said, adding that the “only legitimate path to long-term peace and stability is through free and fair elections.”

Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation, has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, leaving the economy and public health system in tatters.

The 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise plunged the country further into chaos. No elections have taken place since 2016 and the presidency remains vacant.

Haiti’s foreign minister pleaded Thursday for the deployment plans to be accelerated, telling the U.N. Security Council that gang violence in the country was as barbaric as the horrors experienced in war zones.

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