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Haiti seeks U.N. Security Council help to strengthen its police force, as gangs overrun the country

Haitians erect burning street barricades in Port-au-Prince to protest a new surge of ransom kidnappings by gangs and the police's inability to stop them.
Rodrigo Abd
/
AP
Haitians erect burning street barricades in Port-au-Prince to protest a new surge of ransom kidnappings by gangs and the police's inability to stop them.

The last United Nations police mission left Haiti two years ago — but the government suggests another may need to be deployed as politically-affiliated gangs take over.

As violent gangs take over many parts of Haiti, the government is now asking the international community for help in beating back those criminal groups.

In recent months, Haiti has once again seen a surge in gang violence — especially kidnappings for ransom that often turn deadly. Meanwhile, criminal groups — many believed to be connected to Haiti’s political parties — are fighting for control of large swaths of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other cities.

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Which is why this week the Haitian government has asked the U.N .Security Council for help in strengthening the country’s weak police forces.

After Haiti’s epic 2010 earthquake, the United Nations had various police and peacekeeping missions there — until two years ago. Many Haitians say it’s no coincidence the gang crisis has spiraled since then.

Haitian Foreign Minister Claude Joseph said the “new realities” suggest the U.N. may now need to re-deploy those police missions.

Security Council representatives sounded skeptical that more U.N. security assistance would really do much good. Still, the U.N.’s own recent report points out some 19,000 Haitians have been forced from their homes because of the country’s gang wars.

Haiti's national police said this week they've begun a special operation aimed at the kidnappings.