Kenyan Police Deploy to Haiti to Combat Gang Violence

The first Kenyan police officers tasked with addressing the escalating gang violence in Haiti are departing from Kenya on Tuesday and are scheduled to arrive this week, the said on Monday.

“We anticipate observing further quantifiable improvements in security, especially concerning access to humanitarian aid and fundamental economic activities,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.

Kenya volunteered in July 2023 to lead an international force aimed at tackling violence in the Caribbean nation, where gangs control a majority of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and have perpetrated widespread killings, kidnappings, and sexual violence.

The deployment has been repeatedly delayed due to legal challenges and a worsening security situation, which in March compelled former Prime Minister Ariel Henry to step down.

Four officers, who requested anonymity due to a lack of authorization to speak publicly, stated that their weapons and personal belongings were collected on Sunday evening for loading onto the aircraft.

Kenya’s government spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Kenyan President William Ruto on Monday presided over a departure ceremony for 400 officers who will constitute the initial contingent deployed to Haiti.

“This mission is one of the most urgent, critical, and historic endeavors in the history of global solidarity. It is a mission to uphold the universal values of the international community, a mission to champion humanity,” Ruto asserted.

An additional group of approximately 600 officers will join the first contingent at a later stage, according to the four officers. They indicated their expectation to make a stopover in a third country before reaching Haiti.

Besides Kenya, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Barbados, Chad, and Bangladesh have pledged personnel for the 2,500-strong mission, which is primarily funded by the United States.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Garry Conille – sworn in earlier this month following Henry’s forced resignation while abroad – expressed appreciation for Kenya’s support.

“The government and the Haitian people hope that this multinational mission will be the final intervention to assist in the country’s stabilization, enabling it to renew its political personnel and restore an effective democracy,” Conille stated on X.

Prior missions have left behind numerous civilian casualties, a cholera outbreak, and a sexual abuse scandal, but supporters remain optimistic that this deployment can reestablish security, allowing Haiti to conduct its first elections since 2016.

Henry first sought international security assistance in 2022 as gangs seized control of Haiti’s primary fuel terminal.

, which has paralyzed the economy, shuttered hospitals, and impeded supply routes, has resulted in the internal displacement of over half a million Haitians and left approximately half the country struggling to secure food.