The United Nations (UN) Security Council voted on a resolution that will see a non-UN multinational force led by Kenya deployed to Haiti to combat gangs and restore security.
Hours before the vote took place, Kenya’s National Security Council met and approved the plan.
The meeting under the chairmanship of President William Ruto approved the plan ahead of a planned resolution in Parliament.
Ruto and his team had last week met an assessment team that visited Haiti to assess the situation.
The team led by Deputy Inspector General Administration Police Noor Gabow briefed the president on their findings and plans.
Officials aware of the meeting said the president ordered the team to itemize their needs and plans for further action which he was briefed on Monday.
At stake, is almost Sh29 billion that has been pledged by the US government to enable the mission to be successful.
The Biden administration has pledged $100 million (Sh14.5 billion) to the mission and another $100 million (Sh14.5 billion) from the Defence Department in the form of intelligence, airlifts, communications, and medical assistance.
About a dozen countries said they would join the mission, including Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda.
Kenya did not require the U.N. vote but had said it would not proceed without international backing.
Kenya will now deploy its force to Haiti by January 2024.
The Bahamas has committed 150 persons to support the multi-national force, while Jamaica said it cannot reach the 1,000 offered by Kenya, it “will give what we can.”
Only officers from formed units in the National Police Service of Kenya will be deployed to Haiti.
More than 1,000 officers will be picked from the Rapid Deployment Unit, Anti Stock Theft Unit, General Service Unit, and Border Patrol Unit to form a larger team for deployment with the exercise expected to happen in two month’s time.
These officers have paramilitary training and are likely to work well with other personnel from countries that have agreed to send theirs to Haiti for the same mission.
The personnel from the formed units have skills that can address the needs in Haiti, officials say.
They will be provided with a kit to use while in Haiti. They can use the uniforms they use in Kenya as they are not under the UN formally.
RDU, ASTU and BPU are from APS while the GSU will also provide personnel from most likely the RECCE unit.
Kenya will take the command and operations of about 3,000 personnel.
Unlike a UN peacekeeping mission, where the blue-helmeted forces are under the control of the U.N. Department of Peace Operations, the multinational force in Haiti will be overseen by Kenya, although its forces are there with U.N. authorization, which gives the intervention the backing of international law.
Already there is lobbying within the services for those who want to join the mission.
The selected team will converge at a camp for a brief joint training before they depart for the mission.
The council developed the framework for and authorise a one-year deployment of an international force, with a review after nine months.
According to the resolution, leaders of the mission would be required to inform the council of the mission’s goals, rules of engagement, financial needs, and other matters before a full deployment.
The resolution notes that the Security Council intends to impose additional sanctions on Jimmy Cherizier, known as “Barbecue,” who heads Haiti’s biggest gang alliance. Cherizier, a former police officer, recently warned that he would fight any armed force suspected of abuses.
The US-drafted resolution says the force would help build the capacity of local police planning, conducting joint security support operations, and also secure critical infrastructure sites and transit locations such as the airport, ports, and key intersections in Haiti.
Leaders of the mission will be required to inform the UN Council of the mission’s goals, rules of engagement, financial needs, and other matters before a full deployment.
According to the UN, it has taken long to establish the mission as “a major sticking point has always been which country would step forward to lead what could be a very complicated and risky mission.”
The force would be allowed to provide operational support to Haiti’s National Police, which is underfunded and under-resourced, with only some 10,000 active officers in a country of more than 11 million people.
The resolution said the force would help build capacity of local police “through the planning and conduct of joint security support operations as it works to counter gangs and improve security conditions in Haiti.”
The force would also help secure “critical infrastructure sites and transit locations such as the airport, ports, and key intersections.” Powerful gangs have seized control of key roads leading from Haiti’s capital to the country’s northern and southern regions, disrupting the transportation of food and other goods.
It authorizes the force to “adopt urgent temporary measures on an exceptional basis” to prevent the loss of life and help police maintain public safety.
The resolution stresses that all those participating in the proposed mission must take necessary action to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse as well as vet all personnel.
It also demands swift investigations of any allegations of misconduct.
In addition, the resolution warns that those involved in the mission must adopt wastewater management and other environmental controls to prevent the introduction and spread of water-borne diseases, such as cholera.
Kenya formally established diplomatic relations with Haiti on September 21, after an agreement signed by Ruto and Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
From January 1 to August 15, more than 2,400 people in Haiti were reported killed, more than 950 kidnapped and 902 injured, according to the most recent UN statistics.
More than 200,000 others have been displaced by violence, with many crammed in makeshift shelters after gangs pillaged their communities