PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A team of Kenyan officials is in Haiti to explore how best to help the troubled Caribbean nation fight the scourge of gang violence, following up on Nairobi's offer to lead a multinational force in the task.
The force is meant to assist Haiti’s understaffed and under-resourced police department, with only about 10,000 officers for the nation’s more than 11 million people.
Earlier this month, the United States said it would introduce a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize Kenya to lead a multinational police force and provide 1,000 officers. No timetable for the resolution has been given.
The first meeting between Haitian officials and the 10-member Kenyan team took place on Monday, according to a government stated issued late that night.
“We are here to assess the needs of the National Police of Haiti, better understand the situation and do our best to help the Haitian people,” said George Orina, with Kenya's ministry of foreign affairs.
Before arriving in Haiti on Sunday, the Kenyan delegation met with countries and groups in New York that are trying to decide how best to help Haiti. From January 1 until Aug. 15, more than 2,400 people in Haiti were reported killed, more than 950 kidnapped and another 902 injured, according to the most recent U.N. statistics.
Gangs are now estimated to control up to 80% of the capital of Port-au-Prince, with more than 200,000 people displaced after gangs pillaged and burned their homes.
The Kenyan officials said the countries they met with understand “the Haitian demands and the urgent need to put an end to a situation which is paralyzing the functioning of the country and putting the future of its citizens in danger.”
The Kenyan's fact-finding trip to Haiti wraps up on Wednesday.
Kenya’s government first said in late July that it could send 1,000 police officers to train Haiti’s National Police, “restore normalcy” and protect strategic installations.
The request for the immediate deployment of a foreign armed force was first made by Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry in October.