Haitian Soldiers Welcome UN Decision to Send Foreign Forces

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On Monday, the United Nations Security Council approved a Kenyan-led mission to bring stability to Haiti, a year after leaders in the violence-ravaged Caribbean nation first pleaded for help. The Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation has been in freefall, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, including murders, rapes and kidnappings. The economy and public health system are in tatters, and the country is mired in an almost constant emergency.

But the decision to deploy a multinational force — not formally under the control of the United Nations — is a significant step in the right direction. It was a vital goal of the Biden administration. It marked a victory for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who pushed for a force to be deployed and visited the Caribbean in July to lobby reluctant leaders. The resolution, which authorizes the deployment of a “multinational security support mission” in Haiti for a year, was co-sponsored by the United States and Ecuador. It calls on the lead country, to be decided later, to contribute 1,000 police personnel. Other Caribbean nations, including Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Bahamas, have also pledged to contribute forces.

While the move is a step forward, the White House stressed that the military effort will not replace the need for Haitians to work out their differences and hold elections they have been calling for. The administration said it is critical that the force has clear boundaries and a mandate to protect civilians.

The United States has been working for months to get the Security Council to back a force, and it was gratified that the resolution passed with no vetoes. But China, which has a long history of criticizing the United States for using its veto power on behalf of Taiwan, opposed the resolution. Its ambassador, Zhang Jun, argued that it was appropriate to authorize the use of force in Haiti with an inter-Haitian dialogue and a political solution led by the government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

The resolution includes a commitment to hold elections within 18 months, and it expands an arms embargo on light weapons to include parts used for their assembly and maintenance. It also aims to train the Haitian National Police. The United States, contributing $100 million to back the multinational force with logistical and other support, was also gratified that the resolution included language on gender-based violence by gangs and recognizes the role of Haiti’s corrupt and ineffective government in the current situation. The White House thanked Kenya for stepping up to lead the mission and the Bahamas, Jamaica, Antigua, and Barbuda for adding forces. The Security Council will review the mission in nine months. The United States and Kenya will submit a detailed plan for its deployment by Oct. 1. The force is expected to arrive by late 2021 or early 2022.

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