Haiti police meet Kenyan commanders ahead of deployment of UN-backed mission to fight gangs

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A team of Haitian police commanders on Tuesday met Kenya’s inspector general of police ahead of a planned deployment to the violence-hit Caribbean country expected to take place by the end of June.

Kenya is set to lead a U.N.-backed multinational peacekeeping mission with officers drawn from several countries to combat gang violence in Haiti that has left thousands of people dead and forced more than 360,000 others to flee their homes.

“We are counting on your support," Haitian Police official Joachim Prohete told Kenya's Inspector Japhet Koome in a meeting in Nairobi, as police clashed with anti-taxation protesters in the streets.

“We are ready and committed to come over and assist whenever needed,” Koome told the Haitian delegation in return.

The Haitian police also met commanders of the 1,000 Kenyan officers who will be deployed as part of the multinational peacekeeping mission.

Kenya will also host Haitian police for training, and the delegation in Nairobi on Tuesday visited the barracks where drills will take place, Kenyan police said.

President William Ruto last week said Kenya will honor its commitment to restore peace in the Caribbean nation. U.S. President Joe Biden during Ruto’s state visit in May expressed deep appreciation for Kenya's planned deployment.

The deployment that was set to take place in May was postponed to allow completion of bases where the officers will operate from and the procurement of key equipment including vehicles.

Haiti has endured poverty, political instability and natural disasters for decades. International intervention in Haiti has a complicated history. A U.N.-approved stabilization mission to Haiti that started in June 2004 was marred by a sexual abuse scandal and the introduction of cholera, which killed nearly 10,000 people. The mission ended in October 2017.