UN Security Council approves sending foreign forces to Haiti

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(CNN) — The United Nations Security Council has greenlit the deployment of an armed multinational force to Haiti, as the Caribbean nation wrestles with rampant gang violence and political paralysis.

The decision follows repeated calls for military assistance by Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the United States have also strongly urged the international community to back such a mission.

Thirteen members of the council voted in favor of the resolution, with Russia and China abstaining.

Though approved by the powerful UN Security Council, the force would not formally be under UN control. It is expected to be led by Kenya, which has pledged 1000 police to spearhead the mission.

Several of Haiti’s Caribbean neighbors – Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, and Jamaica – have also offered support to the mission.

Warring gangs control much of Port-au-Prince – Haiti’s capital city and main port – choking off vital supply lines to the rest of the country. Gang members have also terrorized the metropolitan population, forcing some 200,000 people to flee their homes amid waves of indiscriminate killing, kidnapping, arson and rape.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 22, Prime Minister Henry told fellow nations that it was “urgent” that the Security Council approve a military mission to reestablish order in Haiti.

Violence has exacerbated broader instability across the country, Henry said, noting that inflation has soared past 50%, leaving 4.9 million Haitians struggling to eat – a dismal new record for the country.

In a statement the same day, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the international community to support the plan and to provide assistance, including personnel.

The US itself is ready to provide “robust financial and logistical assistance,” Blinken said, adding that the Biden administration intends to work with Congress to offer $100 million for the endeavor.

The mission is expected to strengthen local security and to reinforce the Haitian National Police in its pursuit of the gangs, Haiti’s security forces already receives some international support but remains understaffed and outgunned.

Critics of the mission have pointed to scandals associated with UN peacekeeping missions in Haiti, including allegations of sexual abuse and the introduction of a deadly cholera epidemic, which killed nearly 10,000 people.

Some Haitians also question the mandate of Prime Minister Henry, who took leadership of the country after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in 2021.

Henry has said that Haiti’s long-overdue elections cannot be held until the country reaches a basic level of security.