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First UN-approved foreign troops arrive in Haiti to fight gangs in last-ditch attempt to prevent collapse

A group of 400 Kenyan security forces have arrived in Haiti, the first wave of a large United Nations-approved security force meant to retake the country from gang rule. The security forces, dressed in military fatigues and white helmets, landed at Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport on Tuesday. They are part of an effort, requested […]

A group of 400 Kenyan security forces have arrived in Haiti, the first wave of a large United Nations-approved security force meant to retake the country from gang rule.

The security forces, dressed in military fatigues and white helmets, landed at Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport on Tuesday. They are part of an effort, requested by former Prime Minister Ariel Henry 18 months ago, to retake control from a scourge of gang violence. Over 2,500 troops could take part in the effort.

Police from Kenya stand on the tarmac of the Toussaint Louverture International Airport after landing in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. The first U.N.-backed contingent of foreign police arrived nearly two years after the Caribbean country requested help to quell a surge in gang violence. (AP Photo/Marckinson Pierre)

Kenyan President William Ruto praised the security forces in a send-off Monday.


“You are undertaking a vital mission that transcends borders and cultures,” he said, per the Washington Post. “Your presence in Haiti will bring hope and relief to communities torn apart by violence and ravaged by disorder.”

The U.N. reported that 7,500 people have been killed in violence engulfing the country since October 2022, when Henry first made his appeal. Of these, over 2,500 have been killed so far this year.

Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, has been completely overtaken by gangs. The president was forced to resign earlier this year with no replacement, leaving the capital in a state of anarchy. The feuding gangs outgun the local police forces and military, who are unable to regain control.

Several countries were approached for the mission, including Canada, before the decision was ultimately made to choose Kenya. The force, dubbed the Multinational Security Support Mission, is intended to back up the local police rather than replace them.

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Leslie Voltaire, a member of Haiti’s transitional presidential council, told the outlet that the force’s initial role will be to protect critical infrastructure, including airports and seaports, and clear roads of gang checkpoints. It will then move on to rescue neighborhoods alongside the local police.

The United States has been an advocate of sending security forces to retake the country but has shied away from sending its own. President Joe Biden defended the decision, saying the U.S. is “kind of occupied around the world.”

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“We concluded that for the United States to deploy forces in the Western Hemisphere just raises all kinds of questions that can be easily misrepresented,” he added.

The U.S. has been weary of the optics of another intervention in the country, mindful of its 20-year occupation beginning in 1915, which saw the U.S. seize the country’s gold reserves and implement limited forced labor.

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