HAITI. KENYA WILL LEAD A PEACE MISSION
(October 11, 2023)
NEW YORK. In the end the United Nations did it: the Security Council, by approving resolution 2699, gave the green light to Kenya to lead a peacekeeping mission that would restore security in Haiti and prepare the way for new elections at all levels .
As is known, since 2021 in Port-au-Prince there is no longer a president, a parliament or a judiciary. The capital is in the hands of dozens of armed gangs who fly in good and bad weather, the economy is collapsing and people are fleeing if they can.
Kenyan President William Ruto has moved heaven and earth to convince other countries, in particular the United States, to give their consent to a new international peacekeeping mission in the Caribbean country: in fact the resolution was accepted with 13 yes votes, none no and 2 abstentions, Russia and China.
Based on the approved text, the UN entrusts Kenya with the task of leading a support and security mission which will last one year, but which may be extended.
The mission will aim to support the Haitian police in their fight against the criminal gangs that especially infest the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and pave the way for elections of all levels as soon as the general conditions in Haiti allow it .
Nine months after the start of the operation, a report must be presented to the Security Council explaining what has been done and what remains to be achieved.
Among the tasks of the MSS will also be the control of waste water so that cholera, caused by the United Nations mission that operated in the country between 2004 and 2017, doesn’t spread again in Haiti.
Furthermore, the sexual violence that allegedly occurred in those years by the blue helmets must be prohibited.
While the Haitian government reacted with a display of rhetoric, others expressed concern about the arrival of the MSS: Amnesty International, for example, recalled the misdeeds of the previous peacekeeping mission, noting among other things that the blue helmets did practically nothing to stop the spread of criminal gangs, promoted by some politicians and financed by drug trafficking.
Furthermore, there are those who believe that Kenya doesn’t have the right preparation to deal with the Haitian situation and that even more violent clashes could occur between criminals and foreign soldiers with the possibility that the civilian population will once again pay the price for the probable conflicts.
Even the leaders of the armed gangs did not like the decision taken by the United Nations: the most powerful among them
Jimmy Chérizier, known as Barbecue, warned the countries that should be part of this mission: “We’ll fight to the death. It’ll be a struggle of the Haitian people for the dignity of the country.” adding then that the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, considered by many to be a puppet of the United States, will fix everything.
“Chérizier’s story – writes Nyaboga Kiage – is emblematic of the chaos in Haiti. A former police officer, he acquired in-depth knowledge of the area by working in various parts of the country. Although criminal groups, local and foreign security forces often violate human rights, Chérizier has leveraged nationalism to consolidate his image as a defender of Haitian sovereignty. He has used popular revolt strategies, such as blocking a major fuel storage terminal in the capital Port-au-Prince. The costs associated with that attack are compromising the government’s operational capacity.”
In 2020, the United States adopted sanctions against Chérizier, accused of being responsible for a massacre that occurred in Port-au-Prince two years earlier. In the attack on the La Saline neighborhood at least 71 people were killed, more than 400 houses destroyed and at least seven women violated. The attackers took the hostages from their homes, even very young children, and then killed them and abandoned their bodies on the street.
Washington claims that “the gangs repress dissent in the areas of the capital where opposition to the government is strongest: the aim is to create instability and silence the growing demands for an improvement in general living conditions.
KENYA. A COURT BLOCKS EVERYTHING
However, when it looked like the Kenyan expedition was about to get under way, a court temporarily blocked the government from deploying hundreds of police officers to Haiti on a UN-approved mission.
The court issued order prohibits Kenyan government officials, including the president and his interior minister, “from deploying police officers to Haiti or any other country until October 24, 2023.”
According to those who filed the complaint, the use of police officers is “not only senseless and irrational but also unconstitutional” because only the Kenyan army can be deployed outside the country.
Nairobi had said it was willing to send a thousand people to Haiti: several Caribbean states and some Europeans promised to participate in the mission.
THE BORDER REOPENS
Meanwhile, on the relations front between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, after almost a month of closure, at 8 in the morning (local time) on 11 October the border between the two countries reopens and outward and return trade traffic resumes.
The closure measure was adopted on September 11 by the President of S. Domingo Luis Abinader who in a speech accused the Haitians of infiltrating his country’s territory, especially at night.
In detail, S. Domingo has new measures to accompany the unblocking of the border with the aim of strengthening security on the demarcation line, in which temporary trade corridors will be created that will allow the export of products from the Dominican Republic to Haiti.
These corridors will operate with strict military control measures and mandatory biometric registration in the (neighboring) provinces of Dajabón, Elías Piña, Independencia and Pedernales to facilitate the trade of essential Dominican products such as food and medicine, especially for newborns.
The export of electronic products, cement, bars and other construction materials will not be allowed to prevent the construction of structures that threaten Dominican environmental heritage.
In any case, the immigration of Haitians into the neighboring country is prohibited: the issuing of entry visas is suspended for an indefinite period.
The Dominican government has activated a fund to finance an agricultural mechanization program to reduce the hiring of undocumented migrant workers through the Bank for Development and Export (Bandex).
The legal advisors are tasked with drafting an urgent regulation on the operation of the Border Markets Act, to ensure high levels of security.
Furthermore, the militarization of the border will be strengthened to make access to Dominican territory even more difficult for gang members fleeing from the multinational force that will be deployed in the country as soon as possible.
These decisions come a few days after the reactivation of the La Vigía canal, on the Dominican side of the river, upstream from the water intake on the Haitian side that triggered the water conflict.
By restoring this infrastructure “we save the flow of the Dajabón River (known as Massacre in Haiti), we guarantee water to our agricultural producers and we preserve the biodiversity of the wetlands of the Saladillo lagoon”, said a government spokesperson.
The Haitian press has criticized the failure to completely reopen the border, stating that this does not help the country emerge from its multiple crises.
On the other hand, the Dominican president is running for re-election and therefore fears losing support if he does not appear tough enough with the Haitians.
PIER LUIGI GIACOMONI
 N. Kiage, The Nation, Kenya, Kenyan policemen against Haitian gangs, in Internazionale No. 1532, 6 October 2023.