Haiti police to head security mission set to deploy by end of May, transition council says

News | May 21, 2024
FILE PHOTO: Gunfire near Haiti’s National Palace, in Port-au-Prince

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti’s national police force will take charge of a much-awaited U.N.-backed security mission set to launch by the end of this month, Haiti’s transition council said on Tuesday.

Police will oversee the force, meant to wrest back control over large swathes of Haiti from gangs, and will make decisions on its “makeup, objectives, rules of engagement and health measures,” the transition council said on X.

Last year, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the mission’s deployment. However, progress has lagged as Haiti has fallen into further chaos, which saw interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry pushed out and an interim council installed in April.

Kenya has offered 1,000 officers to lead the force, though their deployment has been repeatedly delayed by legal challenges despite construction on a base to house them underway.

Kenyan President William Ruto will visit Washington this week to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden. The two are expected to speak about Haiti.

Jamaica, the Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Bangladesh have also pledged personnel to the force.

Other foreign governments have been reluctant to take part in the mission. Many Haitians have also been wary of international interventions after previous U.N. missions left behind a devastating cholera epidemic and sex abuse scandals.

“Haiti, through the Haitian National Police, will have overall control over the mission on the ground,” the transition council said, adding it “should be deployed before the end of May.”

Haiti’s police are up against heavily armed gangs, worsening humanitarian conditions and lack equipment and infrastructure. Some 80 police officers were killed in action, died in accidents or disappeared last year, according to a union report.

(Reporting by Kylie Madry in Mexico City and Harold Isaac in Port-au-Prince; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)