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UN OK's Sending Forces to Haiti        10/03 06:04

   The U.N. Security Council voted Monday to send a multinational armed force 
led by Kenya to Haiti to help combat violent gangs, marking the first time in 
almost 20 years that a force would be deployed to the troubled Caribbean nation.

   SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council voted Monday to send 
a multinational armed force led by Kenya to Haiti to help combat violent gangs, 
marking the first time in almost 20 years that a force would be deployed to the 
troubled Caribbean nation.

   The resolution drafted by the United States and Ecuador was approved with 13 
votes in favor and two abstentions from China and the Russian Federation.

   The resolution authorizes the force to deploy for one year, with a review 
after nine months. The non-U.N. mission would be funded by voluntary 
contributions, with the U.S. pledging up to $200 million.

   The vote was held nearly a year after Haiti's prime minister requested the 
immediate deployment of an armed force, which is expected to quell a surge in 
gang violence and restore security so Haiti can hold long-delayed elections. 
Haiti's National Police has struggled in its fight against gangs with only 
about 10,000 active officers in a country of more than 11 million people.

   "More than just a simple vote, this is in fact an expression of solidarity 
with a population in distress," said Jean Victor Gnus, Haiti's foreign 
affairs minister. "It's a glimmer of hope for the people who have been 
suffering for too long."

   A deployment date has not been set, although U.S. Secretary of State Antony 
Blinken recently said a security mission to Haiti could deploy "in months."

   Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Alfred Mutua said last week that the force 
could deploy within two to three months, or possibly early January. He also 
noted that key officers are being taught French.

   Hours after the vote, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry thanked the U.N. 
Security Council, the U.N.'s secretary general and Kenya and other countries 
who agreed to join the force, saying, "The bell of liberation sounded. ... We 
couldn't wait any longer!"

   It wasn't immediately clear how big the force would be. Kenya's government 
has previously proposed sending 1,000 police officers. In addition, Jamaica, 
the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda have pledged to send personnel.

   Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian Federation's U.N. ambassador, said he did not 
have any objections in principle to the resolution, but that sending an armed 
force to a country even at its request "is an extreme measure that must be 
thought through."

   He said multiple requests for details including the use of force and when it 
would be withdrawn "went unanswered" and criticized what he said was a rushed 
decision. "Authorizing another use of force in Haiti ... is short-sighted" 
without the details sought by the Russian Federation, he said.

   China's U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, said he hopes countries leading the 
mission will hold in-depth consultations with Haitian officials on the 
deployment and explained his opposition to the resolution.

   "Without a legitimate, effective, and responsible government in place, any 
external support can hardly have any lasting effects," he said, adding that a 
consensus for a transition is urgently needed as well as a "feasible and 
credible" timetable. "Regrettably, the resolution just adopted fails to send 
the strongest signal in that regard."

   Gnus said he's grateful the resolution was approved because a foreign 
armed force is essential, but noted that it's "not enough."

   "Socioeconomic development must be taken into account to take care of 
extreme poverty," he said, adding that it is the source of many of Haiti's 
problems and has created fertile ground for the recruitment of young people by 
gangs.

   About 60% of Haiti's more than 11 million people earn less than $2 a day, 
with poverty deepening further in recent years as inflation spikes.

   The deployment of an armed force is expected to restore peace and security 
to Haiti so it can hold long-awaited general elections that have been 
repeatedly promised by Prime Minister Ariel Henry after the July 2021 
assassination of President Jovenel Mose.

   Haiti lost its last democratically elected institution in January after the 
terms of 10 remaining senators expired, leaving not a single lawmaker in the 
country's House or Senate. Henry has been ruling the country with the backing 
of the international community.

   The president of the U.N. Security Council, Brazil's Srgio Frana, noted 
that without a Haitian political solution based on free, transparent and fair 
elections, "no ... aid will guarantee lasting success."

   International intervention in Haiti has a complicated history. A 
U.N.-approved stabilization mission to Haiti that started in June 2004 was 
marred by a sexual abuse scandal and the introduction of cholera, which killed 
nearly 10,000 people. The mission ended in October 2017.

   The resolution approved Monday warns that mission leaders must takes 
measures to prevent abuse and sexual exploitation as well as adopt wastewater 
management and other environmental controls to prevent water-borne diseases, 
such as cholera.

   But concerns remain.

   Critics of the Kenyan-led mission have noted that police in the east Africa 
country have long been accused of using torture, deadly force and other abuses. 
Top Kenyan officials visited Haiti in August as part of a reconnaissance 
mission as the U.S. worked on a draft of the resolution.

   Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told reporters 
that the resolution contains strong accountability and vetting language and 
that she's confident Kenya will be able to carry out the mission.

   "I can assure you the U.S. will engage on these issues very, very 
aggressively," she said. "We've learned from mistakes of the past."

   Monday's vote comes nearly a year after Haiti's prime minister and 18 top 
government officials requested the immediate deployment of a foreign armed 
force as the government struggled to control gangs amid a surge in killings, 
rapes and kidnappings.

   From Jan. 1 until Aug. 15, more than 2,400 people in Haiti were reported 
killed, more than 950 kidnapped and another 902 injured, according to the most 
recent U.N. statistics. More than 200,000 others have lost their homes as rival 
gangs pillage communities and fight to control more territory.

   Among those left homeless is Nicolas Jean-Pierre, 32, who had to flee his 
house with his partner and two children and now lives in a cramped school 
serving as a makeshift shelter with others like him. He has sent his family to 
temporarily live in the southern coastal city of Les Cayes to keep them safe. 
Jean-Pierre said he would like the foreign armed force to be based in his 
neighborhood "so I can have a life again."

   "The sooner they get here, the better it will be," said Jean-Pierre, who is 
seeking work after gangs burned down the garage where he used to work as a 
mechanic.

   U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan thanked Kenya and other nations 
who have pledged to join the mission, saying it would bring much-needed help to 
Haiti's population.

   "We have taken an important step today, but our work to support the people 
of Haiti is not done," he said.

 
 
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