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US Wants to Seek UN Approval for Kenya-Led Haiti Force Next Week

US Wants to Seek UN Approval for Kenya-Led Haiti Force Next Week
A motorcyclist passes by burning tires as people demonstrate over the rise in the cost of living in Petit-Goâve, Haiti on September 14, 2023. Photographer: Richard Pierrin/AFP/Getty Images

(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration plans to seek UN Security Council approval as early as next week to deploy a Kenya-led multinational force to Haiti, people familiar with the matter said. 

The people asked not to be identified because the timing of the US push hasn’t been publicly released. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said Haiti “cannot wait much longer.”

The US push comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Kenya’s President William Ruto on the sidelines of the UN meeting. Ruto has volunteered Kenyan troops to lead the mission as part of a broader push to quell the latest round of political chaos that has engulfed the impoverished nation.

“I thank him for his willingness to serve as the lead nation of a UN-backed security support mission,” Biden said of Ruto in his speech. “I call on the Security Council to authorize this mission now.”

The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Haiti had appealed for a peacekeeping force last October to stop gangs that have overrun the country, and Kenya was the first to respond, with an offer to send 1,000 police to train Haiti’s forces.

Deploying a force to Haiti is politically sensitive for the UN as well as for the country given peacekeepers’ past track record there. In 2010, UN peacekeepers unwittingly introduced cholera to Haiti, resulting in the deaths of thousands of people.

It will also be a test for the Security Council, which has been deeply divided over the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a veto-wielding member. The council has been able to achieve little since the invasion began last year, and it’s not certain all 15 members will be able to agree on the Haiti mission.

Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader, whose nation borders Haiti, was also adamant about the need for the Security Council to meet quickly and approve Kenya’s plans to lead the force. Jamaica and the Bahamas have also offered to send troops as part of the effort.

“Do it now, because time has run out,” he said in his speech to the General Assembly.

 

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