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UN urges states in Haiti’s region to join Kenya in security force

NEW YORK: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday welcomed Kenya’s readiness to lead an international force to help Haiti’s police combat gang violence and encouraged other countries – particularly from Haiti’s region – to join the effort.

Kenya was ready to deploy 1000 police officers to help train and assist Haiti’s police “restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations,” Kenya’s Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua said in a statement on Saturday.

Haiti’s government last year asked for international security help. Guterres backed that request and in October proposed that one or more states send a “rapid action force” to support the Caribbean country as it struggles to combat violent gangs that have largely overrun the capital Port-au-Prince.

Guterres “values Kenya’s consideration to possibly lead a non-UN multinational force,” UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters on Monday.

“The Secretary-General reiterates his call to the Security Council to support such a non-UN international operation and encourages member states, particularly from the region, to join forces with Kenya,” Haq said.

While there has been broad support for a rapid action force with several countries expressing interest in contributing, until now none has volunteered to lead a deployment.

The United States had lobbied Canada to lead, diplomats said.

French is widely spoken in both Canada and Haiti.

“I’m very happy to see that many other countries are becoming involved to help,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Monday when asked about Kenya’s announcement, adding that he was continuing conversations with the UN about what Canada can do for Haiti.

In March, Canada pledged C$100 million (K272 million) in aid for Haiti’s police and in October joined the United States in delivering tactical and armored vehicles and other supplies.

– Reuters