Kenyan police arrive in Haiti amid violent protests at home

The first group of Kenyan police arrived in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, to begin a peacekeeping mission aimed at curbing gang violence in the Caribbean nation.

The deployment coincides with violent protests in Kenya, where demonstrators clashed with police in Nairobi, resulting in at least five deaths, dozens of injuries, and parts of the parliament building being set on fire. The unrest in Nairobi erupted after lawmakers approved new tax legislation.

In Haiti, the Kenyan police will lead efforts to support the national police and address the gang violence that has led to a humanitarian crisis, displacing over half a million people and leaving nearly five million facing severe food insecurity.

The mission involves collaboration with officers from about 15 other countries, forming a 2,500-strong peacekeeping force primarily funded by the United States.

Despite the violence in Nairobi, which raised questions about Kenya’s ability to lead the mission in Haiti, the deployment plans remain on track.

U.S. President Joe Biden praised the arrival of Kenyan police as a crucial step toward stabilizing Haiti, highlighting the significant financial contributions from the U.S. government.

Kenyan President William Ruto, during a send-off ceremony for the officers, emphasized the mission’s importance in global solidarity.

However, some Kenyans, including former Supreme Court Chief Judge Willy Mutunga, criticized the decision to send police abroad amid domestic security issues.

The deployment faced delays due to legal challenges in Kenya and ongoing instability in Haiti. Concerns persist about the training, rules of engagement, and oversight of the arriving forces, with non-profits like Save the Children and World Vision warning of potential violent reactions from Haitian armed groups and the risk to civilians, particularly children.

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