Failing a State

Kenyan lawmakers are considering a plan to deploy 1,000 police to Haiti.

This unique effort – an African democracy sending peacekeeping forces to aid a former French colony where ethnic Africans staged a groundbreaking slave revolt more than two centuries ago – comes as gangs have ravaged Haiti.

“Haiti is in desperate straits … Murderous gangs control 90 percent of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince,” wrote the Council on Foreign Relations. “Since 2022, these gangs have killed nearly 3,000 mostly slum dwellers, kidnapped 1,300 wealthy and not-so-wealthy local inhabitants, and terrorized the city of three million.”

Haiti requested the intervention a year ago. In early October, the United Nations Security Council approved the deployment of Kenyan law enforcement as well as officers from Antigua-Barbuda, the Bahamas, and Jamaica as the world watched Haiti descend into chaos.

“More than just a simple vote, this is in fact an expression of solidarity with a population in distress,” said Haiti’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Victor Généus after the Security Council vote. “It’s a glimmer of hope for the people who have been suffering for too long.”

But a Kenyan court put the deployment on hold until Nov. 9 when it would rule on challenges to the idea, the Associated Press wrote. Critics contend that under the Kenyan constitution, only the military, not law enforcement, can go abroad, for example.

As the attorneys litigate, around 60 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day, making it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The country, furthermore, hasn’t held elections since President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination in 2021.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry is running the country with the support of the international community, but order must be restored before civil society can operate again.

Kenya might be seeking to flex its muscles on the international stage. It might also be courting the White House. The US has pledged as much as $200 million to the Haitian peacekeeping effort, reported Al Jazeera, but has resisted putting boots on the ground. The US, of course, has occupied Haiti numerous times throughout history, as Foreign Policy magazine noted.

It’s wary of being seen to do that again.

Analysts have warned that the US might be funding a boondoggle, however, said Semafor. One thousand cops won’t be enough to stop the rampant gangs. Furthermore, human rights activists and others in Haiti have also rejected the thought of a Kenyan or other foreign force descending upon their country to put things right. They remember when such a force created major issues and committed crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors when they sought to restore order starting in 2004, the New York Times detailed.

It’s a desperate measure for a desperate situation.

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