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Haitian Gang Desperate As Kenyan Court Blocks Police Force Deployment

Haitian gang desperate as Kenyan court blocks police force deployment. Hours after a Kenyan court blocked the deployment of a U.N.-backed police force to aid in combating gangs in Haiti, radio stations across the Caribbean nation were inundated with jammed lines as callers expressed their concerns and demands for clarity about what comes next.

Daisy-Mae Schmitt
Jan 28, 202416 Shares3185 Views
Haitian gang desperate as Kenyan court blocks police force deployment. Hours after a Kenyan court blocked the deployment of a U.N.-backed police force to aid in combating gangs in Haiti, radio stations across the Caribbean nation were inundated with jammed lines as callers expressed their concerns and demands for clarity about what comes next. However, amidst the uncertainty, few possess concrete answers.
Since Friday's ruling, uncertainty and fear have been spreading, with violence escalating to new levels as gangs strengthen their control over Haiti's capital and surrounding areas.
"Absent a robust external mission that would be deployed very soon, we are facing quite a tragic scenario in Haiti," warned Diego Da Rin with International Crisis Group.
In recent weeks, gangs controlling an estimated 80% of Haiti's capital have launched attacks on previously peaceful communities, seizing power and causing dozens of casualties. This has sparked widespread concerns that they will soon extend their control over all of Port-au-Prince.
Last year, the number of reported killings in Haiti more than doubled to nearly 4,500, while reported kidnappings surged by over 80% to nearly 2,500 cases, according to the latest U.N. statistics.
Simultaneously, Haiti's National Police Force is experiencing a significant decline in its officer numbers at an alarming rate, while those remaining are struggling to cope with the onslaught from gangs, as outlined in a recent U.N. report. Over 1,600 officers left the department last year, and another 48 were reported dead.
Additionally, the equipment that the international community provided to support an underfunded police department has proven insufficient in the face of fierce gang clashes. According to the U.N. report, only 21 out of 47 armored vehicles were in use as of mid-November, with 19 suffering severe damage during anti-gang operations or becoming inoperable due to breakdowns. The remaining seven vehicles were reported as permanently disabled.
"The situation has gone overboard. Enough is enough," said a man who identified himself as Pastor Malory Laurent when he called Radio Caraibes to vent about Friday's ruling. "Every day, you feel there is no hope."
The government of Kenya announced its intention to appeal the ruling. However, the duration of the appeal process and the potential actions of other countries, which had committed to dispatch smaller forces to reinforce the multinational mission, remain uncertain. Countries such as the Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, Burundi, Chad, and Senegal had previously expressed plans to send forces.
"All I will say at this time is that this is a major setback for the people of Haiti who yearn to have a stable country to live in," said Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica prime minister and former head of a Caribbean trade bloc known as Caricom that has sent recent delegations to Haiti to help resolve the unrest. "The decision of the Kenyan court warrants an emergency meeting of the friends of Haiti to determine with the Haitian people the plan B."
Lawyers react as Justice Chacha Mwita deliver judgement
Lawyers react as Justice Chacha Mwita deliver judgement
Messages seeking comment from Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness went unanswered. Hugh Todd, Guyana’s foreign minister, informed The Associated Press that the trade bloc is expected to convene shortly to address the ramifications of the ruling while awaiting communication from Jamaica.
"We will have to see if there is any legal space for us to operate," he said, referring to whether there are any other legal options that might allow Kenya and other countries to move forward.
Edwin Paraison, a former Haitian diplomat and executive director of a foundation focused on enhancing Haiti-Dominican Republic relations, expressed surprise at the notion that international leaders wouldn't have a contingency plan in place.
He suggested that the ruling would enable Haiti to enact its strategies to tackle gang violence and expressed confidence in the country's ability to mobilize sufficient resources for this purpose.
One entity that has never been mentioned, and we don’t understand why it's never been mentioned, is Haiti’s military, even if it’s at an embryonic stage.- Edwin Paraison
Paraison highlighted that over 600 soldiers, freshly trained in Mexico, could potentially collaborate with the police in addressing the situation.
"We have to look at the resources we have at the local level to deal with this situation," he said.
However, according to André Joseph, 50, who runs a small convenience store in downtown Port-au-Prince, one of the city's more perilous areas, these resources may not suffice. Joseph noted that the residents and workers in his vicinity are highly vigilant and protective of him and his business.
I hope that someone can fight for them also. The international force would be the best thing for these people to have here, and for me, too.- André Jose
If a multinational mission is not viable, he advocates for the funds allocated for such efforts to be redirected to Haiti. This, he believes, would enable the country to strengthen its own security forces and combat gang activity.
Among those discontented with Friday's ruling is Marjorie Lamour, a 39-year-old mother of two who sells women’s lingerie from a small container she carries. She is compelled to keep her inventory light in case she needs to flee from gangs.
"Some days I'm here all day, and then there's a shooting and I’m running, and I come back home without a cent," said Lamour, who called the ruling "a major crime" against Haitians.
She recounted that she and her family have been compelled to abandon two different residences due to gang violence, contributing to the staggering number of more than 310,000 Haitians left homeless.
"I don't want to have to run a third time," she said, adding that she doesn’t make enough money to properly care for her children. "Feeding my kids a meal once a day is hard enough. I hope God can do something for us because no one is doing anything."
Da Rin, from the International Crisis Group, pointed out a potential silver lining in the U.N. Security Council-backed mission: it did not designate Kenya as the leader. This leaves open the possibility for another country to assume leadership without requiring additional meetings and approval from the council.


While Haiti awaits the potential implementation of Plan B, Da Rin expressed concerns that the situation could deteriorate further, particularly with the recent arrival of former Haitian rebel leader Guy Philippe, who has not endorsed the Kenyan-led mission.
With this news, the desperation of Haitians to see a way out of the security crisis increases. They may make some slightly radical decisions.- Guy Philippe
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