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Kenya and the United States signed a defense agreement this week that will see the African nation receive resources and support for security deployments as it prepares to lead a multinational mission to violence-torn Haiti, Al Jazeera reported.

The defense pact follows a meeting between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Kenyan counterpart, Aden Duale. The deal will guide both nations’ defense relations for the next five years as the war in East Africa against the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group intensifies.

Earlier this year, Kenya volunteered to lead an international force to Haiti to help stabilize the country that has been plagued by a political crisis worsened by natural disasters and escalating gang violence since its prime minister, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in 2021.

Currently, the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, is largely under gang control, with citizens facing attacks, including kidnappings and sexual violence. Thousands have been displaced from their homes.

Last October, Prime Minister Ariel Henry urged the international community to establish a special armed force to address the crisis, a proposal that received support from the US and the United Nations.

However, the mission has been delayed due to a lack of leadership commitment from any country.

The Kenyan government stepped up to help assist the Haitian police to “restore normalcy.” Officials plan to send 1,000 security officers to the Caribbean country, adding that the East African nation has a “very long history of global peacekeeping” – ranging from deployments in Kosovo to neighboring Somalia and Congo.

However, some human rights advocates have questioned whether foreign intervention will help, noting that past missions to Haiti have ended bitterly, with accusations of corruption and the sexual abuse of locals.

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