The United Nations Security Council has given the green light to a multinational force aimed at assisting Haiti in its struggle against rampant gang violence. In a decisive vote on Monday, 13 of the 15 council members endorsed a mission led by Kenya to provide aid to Haiti, while Russia and China abstained, citing concerns about Haiti’s complicated history with foreign intervention.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has consistently called for international aid over the past year as gang-related violence has spiraled out of control, resulting in escalating insecurity and a surge in vigilante actions.
According to the United Nations, a staggering 5.2 million people in Haiti, nearly half of the population, currently require humanitarian assistance. Gang violence has displaced around 200,000 residents and claimed the lives of 3,000 people in just this year, with an additional 1,500 individuals abducted for ransom.
The situation was further aggravated when powerful gang leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier announced his intention to overthrow Henry’s government last month, raising concerns about the nation’s stability.
In response to this violence, the UN resolution passed on Monday authorizes the establishment and year-long deployment of a “Multinational Security Support” (MSS) mission to bolster Haitian police, restore security, and safeguard critical infrastructure. The mission’s effectiveness will be reviewed after nine months.
Haitian Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus welcomed the Security Council’s decision, urging countries to commit to participating “as quickly as possible.” He stated, “More than just a simple vote, this is, in fact, an expression of solidarity with a population in distress. It’s a glimmer of hope for the people who have been suffering for too long.”
The resolution was a long time in the making, with countries like the United States initially hesitant to lead such a mission. Al Jazeera correspondent Shihab Rattansi explained, “It is rather controversial. That’s one of the reasons why it took so long. Actually, no one even wanted to lead this mission. It was only at the end of July that Kenya said, ‘We will look into it,’ and then accepted to lead this.”
Even Kenya’s offer to lead the force faced criticism. Prominent human rights groups, including Amnesty International, expressed “deep concern” about Kenya’s “continued unlawful use of force against protestors” within its own borders.
Rattansi also highlighted the wariness of many Haitians toward UN intervention due to previous experiences with the organization’s peacekeepers. In 2017, the last UN stabilization mission left Haiti after allegedly introducing cholera and being accused of widespread sexual abuse, including of children, without adequate compensation to Haitians.
Additional criticism came from UN representatives for Russia and China, who voiced reservations about sending an armed force to Haiti. Russia’s Vassily Nebenzia called it “an extreme measure that must be thought through” and cautioned against approving a force without a clear plan for its eventual withdrawal. Chinese diplomat Zhang Jun emphasized the need for a “legitimate, effective, accountable government” in place for foreign intervention to be effective.
Haiti has not held federal-level general elections since before the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, with the last remaining senators’ terms expiring in January.
Zhang also questioned whether sending a force would have been more prudent earlier, before over 60 percent of the Haitian capital fell under gang control.
Nevertheless, officials in the US and elsewhere hailed the UN resolution as an “important milestone.” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated, “We have taken an important step today, but our work to support the people of Haiti is not done. It is now crucial that we focus on making progress in mobilizing the international support necessary to deploy this mission swiftly, effectively, and safely.”
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