AMERICA/HAITI - The international police force will be deployed in Haiti in three weeks

Tuesday, 28 May 2024 violence   banditry  

Port-au-Prince (Agenzia Fides) - The Kenyan-led multinational mission in Haiti "will not be deployed before three weeks". Kenyan President William Ruto announced this in an interview with the BBC. Originally, 200 Kenyan police officers were scheduled to land in Haiti on May 23, but their arrival was postponed at the last minute. Ruto explained that the delay in the arrival of this first police contingent was due to difficulties in preparing the facilities to receive the international contingent, as well as a lack of weapons and transport. In October, Kenya initially agreed to lead the security mission in Haiti and send up to 1,000 officers to help Haitian police maintain security. An additional 1,500 officers have been pledged by other countries, including Jamaica, Barbados, Bangladesh, Benin and Chad. The international police force is intended to help local security forces contain gang violence that has exploded in Haiti in recent months. In March, gangs attacked the country's two largest prisons, freeing over 4,000 inmates, laying siege to the airport and forcing Ariel Henry, the country's prime minister, into exile. Henry has since resigned (see Fides, 27/3/2024). Meanwhile, the international mission is being fought by criminal gangs. Haiti's former rival gang alliances, the G9 and the G-Pèp, have joined forces in their opposition to the security mission, forming a group called the "Vivre Ensemble." Meanwhile, weapons continue to flow into the country, some of which may come from robberies in Latin American countries such as Colombia. What is certain is that the Haitian gangs have increasingly sophisticated weapons, as Sister Marcella Catozza of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Busto Arsizio, who has been working in Haiti for 20 years, explained to Fides (see Fides, 15/3/2024).
Weapons may also be purchased with the complicity of three Haitian businessmen who were sanctioned by the Canadian government in December 2022 on charges of "exploiting their status as senior members of the Haitian economic elite to protect and facilitate the illegal activities of criminal gangs, including through money laundering and other acts of corruption." The three are Gilbert Bigio, president of the Haitian industrial conglomerate GB Group, and businessmen Reynold Deeb and Sherif Abdallah. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Haiti is dire (see Fides, 27/5/2024), while the violence does not appear to be abating. On May 23, 2024, two young American Protestant missionaries, Natalie and Davy Lloyd, were killed along with their Haitian companion Jude Mon on the Plain of Cul de Sac. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 28/5/2024)