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People flee their neighborhoods after armed gangs terrorized the Delmas 24 and Solino areas on the night of May 1, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Clarens Siffroy/AFP/Getty Images/File via CNN Newsource)

Kenyan officials arrive in Haiti

May 22, 2024

By Caitlin Stephen Hu and David Culver, CNN

(CNN) — A delegation of Kenyan “command staff” has arrived in Haiti, according to a law enforcement source in the country, ahead of the long-delayed arrival of a Kenyan-led multinational security support force in the Caribbean nation.

The delegation is expected to assess this week whether equipment and facilities for the foreign police forces are ready — an assessment which will be decisive in determining a timeline for the deployment, a source with knowledge of the preparations told CNN.

Members of the delegation are also expected to meet with US and United Nations officials in the country, sources said.

The UN Security Council last year authorized a multinational mission to support Haiti’s National Police in battling deadly gangs that have seized control of much of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Despite strong support from the US and other regional powers, however, the mission has been mired in uncertainty and legal challenges for months. It was further delayed following the resignation of former Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in March, until the creation of a transitional governing council.

The council said Tuesday that it met with top Haitian police brass to discuss the multinational mission. “Haiti, through the Haitian National Police, will have overall control of all aspects of the field mission,” including the mission’s composition, aims, rules of engagement and health precautions, it emphasized in a statement on X.

Kenya is currently finalizing preparations for the mission, the country’s principal secretary of foreign affairs Korir Sing’Oei said Sunday, citing the successful creation of the council and other institutions in Haiti as key conditions.

“In view of that and in view of the decision of the courts in our republic essentially guiding how Kenya should be able to carry out this deployment, lots of reciprocal agreements were entered into between Kenya and Haiti, which facilitates Kenya’s ability to deploy. And we are in the process — our government is in the process of finalizing preparation to deploy.”

The mission is scheduled to launch by the end of this month. A UN-managed trust fund for the mission currently contains $21 million, provided by Canada ($8.7 million), France ($3.2 million), Spain ($3 million) and the United States ($6 million). Personnel for the mission have been offered by the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Chad and Jamaica, in addition to Kenya.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday defended US funding for the mission in a Senate Foreign Relations hearing, warning that Haiti is “on the precipice of becoming an all-out failed state” without international support.

“I understand some of the skepticism that exists about another mission in Haiti, but I think what we have going for us is this: first, a general revulsion of the people at the direction that the country has taken, including gangs that are dominating Port-au-Price and trying to undermine governance, a democratic trajectory that’s been disrupted by failing to have a government that actually has a clear mandate and all of that has also had the effect of interrupting development assistance, other forms of assistance that people so desperately need,” he said.

Haiti’s National Police have already “taken back control of the airport and other critical infrastructure,” he added. “In fact, today, commercial flights resumed in Haiti, and we anticipate that American carriers will begin flying again in the days ahead.”

US President Joe Biden will welcome Kenyan President William Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto to the White House on Thursday, with Haiti high on the expected agenda.

Kenyan authorities did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

CNN’s Michael Conte and Audry Jeong contributed reporting.

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