US to introduce UN resolution for multinational force in Haiti

State Department says US will provide resources to the force after Kenya expresses willingness to lead Haiti mission.

Haitian security forces accompany a vehicle into neighborhood
Haiti's National Police patrol during an anti-gang operation in the Tabarre neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 25 [File: Odelyn Joseph/AP Photo]

Washington, DC – The United States has said it plans to introduce a resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to authorise a “multinational force” in Haiti, after Kenya expressed a willingness to lead the mission.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said any mission to Haiti, which is struggling with spiraling gang violence, would first need UNSC authorisation.

“The United States along with Ecuador are going to introduce a resolution at the UN Security Council to take that step,” he said.

Miller did not specify when exactly the resolution would be put forward, but he said it would happen in the near future.

“The second step is that the government of Kenya needs to conduct an assessment mission, which they plan to do in the coming days and weeks,” said Miller, adding that Kenya will then correspond with allied nations about the force’s needs and what countries may participate.

“We are committed to finding the resources to support this multinational force,” he told reporters.

For months, Haitian officials have been pleading for international support, including a “specialised armed force”, as residents of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other parts of the country reel from widespread violence unleashed by armed gangs.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Haiti has faced rampant criminal violence for years. It has also suffered from periodic natural disasters and a long-standing political deadlock made worse by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.

But despite enjoying the backing of the UN and US, the call for a multinational force has stalled as no country agreed to lead such a mission.

Civil society groups also have rejected the prospect of foreign intervention, calling for local solutions to the country’s multi-faceted crisis.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Kenyan President William Ruto and praised “Kenya’s positive consideration of leading a multinational force in Haiti”, the State Department said.

It remains unclear what other countries might contribute to such a mission.

The announcement came as Haitian government forces have struggled to contain criminal gangs, prompting a spate of vigilante killings in recent months.

The violence has fuelled criticism of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has served as the country’s de facto leader since Moise’s death but faces a crisis of legitimacy as most state institutions are not functioning and elections have been repeatedly postponed.

The crisis also has pushed rights groups to warn that Haiti could be slipping towards a civil war.

On Thursday, the US ordered the departure of non-emergency government personnel and urged American citizens to leave the Caribbean nation “as soon as possible”.

In early July, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres repeated his call for a “robust international force” to help Haiti’s security forces respond to the violence.

“We must put Haiti on the international political map and make the tragedy of the Haitian people the international community’s top priority,” Guterres said on a visit to Port-au-Prince.

“I met Haitians and I felt the exhaustion of a population that has been facing a cascade of crises and unbearable living conditions for too long.”

Source: Al Jazeera