Kenyan force lands in Haiti, even as Nairobi faces rebellion | WORLD
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Kenyan force lands in Haiti, even as Nairobi faces rebellion

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 Associated Press/Photo by Marckinson Pierre

Kenyan force lands in Haiti, even as Nairobi faces rebellion

Four hundred Kenyan troops arrived in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince Tuesday morning. The contingent is meant to be the first part of a total deployment of 2,500 police officers from various countries. The group was authorized by the UN to bring peace and stability to the region, which has been plagued by violence in recent months. But on the same day that the troops arrived at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Haiti, Kenya experienced a domestic crisis. The Associated Press characterized the trouble as the most direct assault on Kenya’s government in decades.

What has occurred in Kenya? Part of Kenya’s parliament building burned on Tuesday when thousands of demonstrators entered the building, causing legislators to flee. Reporters with the Associated Press witnessed three bodies outside the complex. The demonstrators were reportedly angry about a new finance bill to raise taxes on the Kenyan population. President Ruto was scheduled to address the nation Tuesday evening.

What are Kenyan police doing in Haiti? Police are there to provide relief for the Haitian populace terrorized by gang violence, Kenyan President William Ruto said Monday. In a written statement, he touted Kenya’s strength in peacemaking and conflict resolution. Kenyan police plan to work with the international community to bring lasting stability to Haiti, he said. Eight other countries are expected to provide personnel for the expected 2,500-member force, including the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Chad, Jamaica, and Suriname.

What challenges will they face? Haiti has experienced increased instability ever since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July 2021. Gangs seized control of the capital city in late February and early March this year when they overran police stations and freed over 4,000 inmates from Haiti's two largest prisons. Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced his resignation in March after gang violence shut down Haiti’s only international airport, effectively trapping him outside the country. The airport reopened last month. Gang violence has killed more than 2,500 people within the first three months of 2024 alone, according to the United Nations. Earlier this month, three officers with the Haitian police anti-gang unit were assassinated when they were ambushed by gang members who set fire to their vehicle.

Individual gang members could be hard to apprehend because they could simply travel to different parts of the country, said Jean Marc Brissau, a staff attorney for the Notre Dame Law School Global Human Rights Clinic. Pay inequalities may also create a rift between the international force and the Haitian police, making them reluctant to work together, Brissau has said.

Dig deeper: Read about American missionary Mark Stockeland, who maintains that Haiti is not a lost cause.

Travis K. Kircher

Travis is the associate breaking news editor for WORLD.

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