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Kenya Delays Police Deployment To Haiti

One source, a former police officer in contact with members of the mission, said the officers were given no explanation for the last-minute delay and were told to remain on standby.

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The deployment of the first Kenyan police officers to Haiti to lead an international anti-gang force has been delayed after a planned flight from Nairobi was postponed on Tuesday, according to two sources briefed on the matter.

U.S. officials had previously indicated that the officers could be in Port-au-Prince by Thursday to coincide with Kenyan President William Ruto’s state visit to the White House.

The East African nation volunteered to lead the mission last July but has faced repeated delays with the deployment because of court challenges by Kenyan opposition leaders and activists who oppose the government’s plan.

Some international media have reported that a small advance team of senior offices arrived in Haiti earlier this week, to begin preparations for the full deployment. VOA has not been able to confirm those reports.

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The mission, which will comprise up to 2,500 personnel, is intended to counter gangs who control most of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince and have carried out widespread killings, kidnappings and sexual violence.

President Joe Biden and Kenya's President William Ruto meet with business leaders in the Oval Office, White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. Photo | POOL

President Joe Biden and Kenya’s President William Ruto meet with business leaders in the Oval Office, White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. Photo | POOL

Kenya has committed 1,000 police officers to the United Nations-approved mission, most of which is being financed by the United States. Two hundred Kenyan officers assigned to the mission were told they would fly out of Nairobi on Tuesday evening, the two sources told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

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One source, a former police officer in contact with members of the mission, said the officers were given no explanation for the last-minute delay and were told to remain on standby.

The other source, who was briefed by a government official, said conditions were not in place in Port-au-Prince to receive the officers.

Kenya’s government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also, on Wednesday UNICEF’s Haiti representative warned “Haiti’s health system is on the verge of collapse.”

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Bruno Maes’ statement also said that millions of children are now vulnerable to disease and malnutrition.

“The combination of violence, mass displacement, dangerous epidemics and increasing malnutrition has bent Haiti’s health system, but the strangling of supply chains may be what breaks it,” Maes added.

Haiti’s hospitals are lacking necessary medical supplies, with domestic and international cargo flights only recently resuming with the reopening of the airport in the capital Port-au-Prince after being closed nearly three months.

“Containers filled with vital supplies have been held up, or were looted, as were many warehouses and pharmacies,” UNICEF said, adding that hundreds of containers filled with humanitarian aid are stuck in the city, unable to be unloaded.

Maes said, “We cannot allow vital supplies that could save children’s lives to remain blocked in warehouses and containers. They must be delivered now.”

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Tens of thousands of people have fled the gang violence in Port-au-Prince, with many of them heading to southern Haiti, putting pressure on health services in those areas.

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The mayhem also has prompted 40 percent of all medical staff to leave Haiti, UNICEF said.

Source information for this article is from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.


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