The head of the United Nations reiterated his call for the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti in a private letter seen by AFP Wednesday, in which he proposed sending both police and military units.
“I continue to appeal to Member States to deploy a non-United Nations multinational force, composed of police special forces and military support units,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in a Monday letter to the UN Security Council.
Guterres and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry have been pleading for months for a deployment to the Caribbean country, which is sinking under compounding humanitarian, political and security crises that have overwhelmed its weak government and security forces.
Many countries have been hesitant to step in, partly out of fear of finding themselves in a bloody quagmire.
In late July, however, Kenya announced it was willing to head a multinational police intervention to train and assist the Haitian police, with Nairobi pledging 1,000 officers.
The mission would need a greenlight from the Security Council, even though it wouldn’t be deploying under the flag of the UN.
Guterres in his letter welcomed Kenya’s move, saying a deployment is “urgently needed.”
He also acknowledged the proposed Kenyan mission’s support from The Bahamas and Jamaica, as well as “announcements made by Antigua and Barbuda to consider contributing.”
“We’re hopeful that other countries will also step up with the appropriate personnel and facilities, and that we will have the Security Council also move forward on the recommendations that the secretary-general has now given,” Guterres’ spokesman Farhan Haq said.
The United States, which is currently presiding over the Council’s rotating presidency, has pledged resources to support the deployment, and along with Ecuador has promised to push for its authorization.
Gangs control roughly 80 percent of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, and violent crimes including kidnappings for ransom, carjackings, rapes and armed thefts are common.
Elections have not been held in the nation, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, since 2016.
“Addressing the security situation in Haiti requires a range of coercive law enforcement measures, including active use of force in targeted police operations against heavily armed gangs,” Guterres said in the letter.
Guterres himself has called for a non-UN force.
A UN peacekeeping mission was in operation in Haiti from 2004 to 2017 but fell out of favor after a cholera outbreak traced to infected UN personnel claimed thousands of lives.