Kenya troops leave Nairobi to start mission in gang-hit Haiti

A Kenyan force to lead a multinational mission to tackle gang violence in Haiti has left Nairobi, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said.

“Honoured to see off the first batch of the contingent of the National Police Service officers who are part of the historic United Nations Mission to Haiti,” Kindiki said in a statement on Monday.

Some 400 police officers departed Nairobi at 10:50 pm (1950 GMT) aboard the national carrier, Kenya Airways, an official at the Interior Ministry told the AFP news agency.

The police chief and officials from the Interior Ministry saw the officers off, he said.

The group comprises elite officers from the Rapid Deployment Unit, General Service Unit, Administration Police, and Kenya Police.

President William Ruto bid a ceremonial goodbye to the officers on Monday and handed them a Kenyan national flag.

“Your presence in Haiti will bring hope and relief to communities torn apart by violence and ravaged by disorder,” he said, adding that the rest of the force will join their colleagues “soon”.

Trouble in Caribbean

The deployment was approved by a UN Security Council resolution in October.

Kenya offered to send about 1,000 troops to stabilise Haiti alongside personnel from several other countries, but the deployment has run into legal challenges in the East African nation.

The United States has agreed to contribute $300 million to the force, but President Joe Biden argued that an American troop presence in Haiti would raise “all kinds of questions that can easily be misrepresented.”

More than 2,500 people were killed or injured in the first three months of the year in Haiti.

The spike in violence began in late February and has displaced more than half a million people.

Gangs now control at least 80 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince and key roads. Trapped outside the country as the international airport was closed, former prime minister Ariel Henry was forced to resign.

Kenyan police face accusations of abuses, with the most recent allegations by watchdogs against Kenyan police for using excessive force came last week, when two people died during anti-government protests.

One protester was shot dead by a suspected plainclothes officer. The other was killed by a tear gas canister thrown by police.



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