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UN approves sending Kenya-led international force to Haiti to help combat gangs

Jacqueline Charles and Michael Wilner, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

The United Nations Security Council approved Monday a one-year deployment of a multinational armed force to Haiti to be led by Kenya, nearly a year after the crisis-ridden country appealed to the international community for help to put down the violent gangs that have taken over larger parts of the country.

The vote on Resolution 2699 came four days shy of one year since the Haitian government first requested an international military intervention on Oct. 6, 2022. Thirteen of the nations on the 15-member council voted for it, while two countries, China and the Russian Federation, abstained. The ambassadors from both countries said that they understand the scale and the urgency of the security problems facing the country, but believe the resolution falls short of a comprehensive approach to dealing with the multiple crises in Haiti.

Supporters of the resolution said they were responding to a clarion call for help from 12 million people who for too long have been held hostage to armed gangs that kidnap, rape and kill.

“More than just a simple vote, this is in fact an expression of solidarity with a population in distress,” Haiti’s Foreign Minister Jean Victor Généus said, thanking the council and the government of Kenya for offering to take the lead. “It’s a glimmer of hope.”

The Security Council, he added, has given “hope to the millions of defenseless women, men and children who need the restoration of liberty, peace and security, and who have for a long time been calling out to the international community for help.”

The vote was a significant victory for the Biden administration, which after failing to get Canada to take a leadership role succeeded in securing the approval of the Security Council. It is also a win for U.N. Secretary General-Secretary General António Guterres who, recognizing past issues with peacekeeping operations in Haiti, proposed deploying a force under a Security Council mandate — but not led by the U.N. itself — and visited the Caribbean in July to lobby reluctant leaders for their support.


“The mission speaks to the U.N.’s ability to galvanize collective action, but today’s vote is only the first step. Now, the work of getting the mission off the ground begins,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said in a statement. “We must act with urgency, as the people of Haiti cannot and should not wait for the peace and stability they deserve.”

Thomas-Greenfield thanked Kenya for stepping forward and welcomed the pledges by the countries, including several Caribbean nations, that have committed to send personnel to Haiti as part of the mission.

The Multinational Security Support Mission will not technically be a U.N. mission, meaning member countries are not obligated to contribute toward its cost. According to the resolution, the force would be funded by voluntarily contributions from countries, and authorization would initially be for a year, with a review after nine months.

Senior U.S. administration officials say the U.S. is committed to the mission’s success and will work with other countries to identify sufficient equipment, personnel and resources. They have declined to say publicly how much the mission is expected to cost, other than the U.S. plans to provide an initial $200 million in funding. Half that will come from the Defense Department.


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