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Kenya parliament approves deployment of police to Haiti to help deal with gang violence

People walk down a street in the neighborhood.
Odelyn Joseph
People, who were displaced from their homes due to clashes between armed gangs in Cite Soleil, walk down a street in the Tabarre neighborhood as they seek refuge in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023.

NAIROBI, Kenya — The Kenyan parliament on Thursday approved the deployment of 1,000 police officers to Haiti to help deal with rising gang violence in the Caribbean nation.

The national assembly backed a motion tabled by parliament’s Committee on Administration and Internal Security approving the government request for sending the security officers as violence escalated in Haiti.

The heated debate saw opposition legislators rejecting government plans for Kenya to lead a multinational policing team in Haiti, saying it violated the country’s constitution. Supporters of the motion said Kenya had a moral obligation and duty to aid Haiti.

The key issues in the debate were who would fund the deployment and what justifications there are for sending security forces to Haiti, thousands of miles from Kenya.

“Where is the sense in taking 1,000 police officers to Haiti when Kenyans are dying, in need of protection, in need of service from their police officers,” argued opposition lawmaker Rozzah Buya.

Gabriel Tongoya, who chairs parliament’s committee on administration and internal security, said all costs of the deployment would be funded by the United Nations.

The planned deployment was blocked by the High Court in Nairobi in October. On Thursday, the court was due to rule on a case by former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot who said the mission, backed by the United Nations, “was a mistake and a suicide mission."

A small girl sits with a man in a public square.
Odelyn Joseph
Francia Florestal, who was injured during clashes between armed gangs in Cite Soleil, sits with her father in a public square where they are taking refuge in the Tabarre neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023.

Interior minister Kithure Kindiki last week told parliament that Kenya will only deploy the officers to Haiti if funding and equipment was paid for by U.N. member states.

Burundi, Chad, Senegal, Jamaica and Belize have all pledged troops for the multinational mission.

Violence has escalated in Haiti as a heavily-armed gang surrounded a hospital in the capital Port-au-prince Wednesday, trapping patients who included 40 children and newborns. Police later rescued the people.

Gangs across Haiti have continued to grow more powerful since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and the number of kidnappings and killings keeps rising.

READ MORE: 'Like a kidnapping ransom': Passport scammers exploit Haitian parole applicants

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