Kenya's offer to help Haiti commendable
Demonstrators protest against surging violence in Port-au-Prince in May 2022. Photo: CNN)

The Kenyan Government, we note, has made an offer to lead a multinational force in Haiti, which has been gripped by worsening political and economic crises since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.

Kenya's Foreign Minister Mr Alfred Mutua said on Saturday that his country is committed to deploying a contingent of 1,000 police officers to help train and assist Haitian police restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations.

The offer is most commendable and we hope that Minister Mutua and his president, Mr William Ruto, will be engaged by the United Nations (UN) which has, since last October, been calling for an international, non-UN deployment to help support police in Haiti.

We recall that when UN Secretary General Mr Antonio Guterres visited Jamaica in May this year the issue of deploying a multinational force to help Haiti was discussed. During a joint news conference hosted by Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Mr Guterres, the Jamaican head of Government had explained that it's not that the pleas from the UN and the Caribbean for help for Haiti have fallen on deaf ears. "The question," Prime Minister Holness said, "is the pace of action, and countries who would want to support would also want to be assured that there is a political process in place that could yield an end result in a time frame that makes sense."

That, we noted at the time, was not an unreasonable position.

Since then we have seen some movements in this region to help Haiti, but the pace, we fear, is not brisk, as conditions in that country are deteriorating rapidly.

Gangs control approximately 80 per cent of the capital; kidnappings for ransom, armed robbery, and carjackings are common; people are being murdered; there are reports of women and girls being raped; and thousands of people have been displaced.

Just last week the United States Government ordered non-essential personnel and family of government employees to leave the country where they already live under tight security — confined to a protected residential area and forbidden to walk around the capital or use any public transport or taxis.

We are aware that the Kenyan offer will require a mandate from the Security Council and approval from the authorities in Haiti. It will also need a buy-in and commitment of involvement from other UN member states because Haiti will require more manpower than Kenya has committed.

This month the UN Security Council adopted a unanimous resolution encouraging member states "to provide security support to the Haitian National Police", including through "the deployment of a specialised force".

However, we are told that the text, which was focused on a one-year extension of the mandate for the special UN office in Haiti, stopped short of making direct plans for any such force.

We have heard that the council has asked Mr Guterres to present, by mid-August, a report on all possible options, including a UN-led mission.

He, of all people, knows the need for urgency, because, as we stated in April this year, with each week of inaction by the international community the situation in Haiti worsens.

The appeal issued in April by Mr Jean-Martin Bauer, the World Food Programme country director in Haiti, can't be repeated too often: "Haiti," he said, "can't wait. We cannot wait for the scale of the problem to be expressed in deaths before the world responds. But that is where we are heading."

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