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Kenya rallies police ahead of Haiti deployment

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Hundreds of Kenyan police officers have been training since late last year to prepare for the deployment of a lifetime: helping lead a multinational force tasked with quelling lawlessness fueled by gangs in Haiti.

The deployment divided the East African country from the start. That sparked a heated debate in parliament and among officials in at least two ministries over whether Kenya should lead such a mission.

The court also tried Block deploymentwhile activists and human rights groups cite History of abuse and unlawful killings Kenyan police strongly condemned this.

but plans to receive unwavering support From its chief advocate, President William Ruto Kenya, who says response worsening crisis The call to the Caribbean nation is “in the service of humanity.”

Now, months after completing training, Kenyan police were recalled this week to prepare for Haiti, according to interviews with several officers involved in the planned deployment. Officials said they have not yet been given an exact date, but they are expected to arrive in Haiti this month.

They are expected to leave, with the United States largely funding the program, Intensify Prepare for the arrival of the multinational force in Haiti, including establishing an operating base at the country’s main airport.

As deployment looms, Mr Ruto prepares for deployment official state visit A meeting with President Biden on May 23 will temporarily distract from a host of domestic challenges, including deadly floodmounting debt and major scandals Fertilizer subsidies.

The international mission is expected to consist of 2,500 members and be led by 1,000 Kenyan police officers. The remaining deployments will come from more than a half-dozen countries that have pledged additional personnel.

As Kenyan police are expected to arrive in Haiti first, some security experts question their readiness to provide support Haiti’s Troubled Police and face Well-armed and organized Haitian gangs They already control much of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

“This is new territory for the Kenyan military,” said Muriti Mutiga, Africa program director at the International Crisis Group.

Although the security officers chosen for the mission are among the best trained in Kenya, he said, “They will essentially be venturing onto an unknown path where the risks are still considerable.”

Haitian gang leaders have vowed to oppose the deployment, raising fears of more violence in the country. Thousands of people have been killed in the country in recent months, and more than 350,000 people fled their homes last year.

The U.N.-backed mission has been in limbo since March, when Kenya said it would suspend efforts After Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned. Gangs seized Port-au-Prince’s airport to prevent Mr. Henry from returning from overseas travels.

After the establishment of the new council Established In Haiti in April, Mr Ruto said he ready to move on with plans.

Ruto’s critics accuse him of conducting the deployment illegally and failing to release documents that dictate how Kenyan troops operate in Haiti. They also plan to file another legal challenge, accusing his administration of violating previous court orders against the mandate.

Kenyan government officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Kenyan lawmaker Milly Odiambo, who serves on the parliamentary defense, intelligence and foreign relations committee, said Ruto should deploy police forces in the country to combat criminals and terrorists wreaking havoc in parts of the country.

She also questioned the government’s decision to send in police rather than the military, given the level of violence in Haiti.

“This mission is a death trap,” she said.

Legal and political obstacles to the mission have frustrated Kenyan police, who have been waiting months to travel to Haiti.

Officers interviewed for this article said hundreds of officers participated in the selection process last October. The officers spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly to reporters.

Approximately 400 officers were selected for initial deployment and began training, along with an additional 100 support staff, including medical personnel. Another team of similar size will also be ready to deploy soon, they said.

The officers were selected from the Kenya General Service Force and the Administration Police, two paramilitary forces tasked with handling everything from riots and cattle rustling to protecting borders and the president.

The officials said they received physical and weapons training from Kenyan and U.S. security personnel and learned details about how Haitian gangs operate.

They also took French classes as well as courses on human rights and Haitian history. Police said they were aware that previous international interventions in Haiti had failed. But they argue that these interventions are largely viewed by Haitians as an occupying force and that their goals are to support local police and protect civilians.

In addition to the prestige that comes with serving overseas, the additional compensation that comes with their service is another motivation, officials said.

The regular salary for these Kenyan officials is US$350 per month, which was the national working group’s salary last year respected Improved by 40%. At the same time, officials say they are deeply in debt and unable to make ends meet as they struggle to feed their families and repay loans.

Some officials said it was unclear how much additional compensation they would receive once they arrive in Haiti or what compensation their families would receive if the worst happened and they were killed.

Kenyan President Ruto currently faces a daunting challenge in pushing ahead with risky interventions, regional experts say. Crisis Group’s Mr Mutiga said the government had not done enough to explain the mission’s objectives to Kenyans.

“Given that Kenya is a relatively open society, this is a political risk for Ruto’s government,” Mr Mutiga said. “If there are significant casualties, there could be political issues.”



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