Kenyans Arrive in Haiti Amid Mixed Reactions to Aid Mission

Nearly two years after Haiti urgently requested international assistance to address a surge in gang violence, the arrival of hundreds of Kenyan police officers has sparked mixed reactions among the Haitian population.

In the streets of Port-au-Prince on Monday, some residents expressed optimism about the new force, while others remained skeptical. Verna Siber, a teacher in the capital, believes that the presence of the Kenyan officers is essential. “They have to be everywhere in the country if we are ever going to be free,” he said.

Conversely, Nathalie François, a nurse, feels that the solution to Haiti’s problems ultimately lies with its own people. Nevertheless, she welcomes any assistance that could provide the security necessary for residents to move freely and secure their basic needs. “If it allows residents the security they need to move freely in the country and feed themselves, then it is welcomed,” she noted.

Maxime Josaphat, an electrician, expressed frustration at the delayed arrival of international help, lamenting the prolonged suffering Haitians have endured. “We have been suffering for four years,” he remarked.

The Kenyan police are set to lead a multinational force aimed at combating the powerful gangs whose violent activities have intensified this year. Haiti’s own police force is underfunded and under-equipped, with only about 4,000 officers on duty at any given time in a country of over 11 million people, according to a U.N. report.

The exact plans for the Kenyan officers’ deployment remain unclear, but they are expected to face significant challenges. Violent gangs currently control 80% of Port-au-Prince, displacing more than 580,000 people nationwide as they seek to expand their territory.

According to the U.N. Security Council, the Kenyan contingent will be joined by forces from several other countries, including the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Chad, and Jamaica. The entire mission will involve 2,500 police officers and will be rolled out in phases, with an annual cost estimated at $600 million.

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