Kenya’s Haiti mission facing uncertain costs despite UN nod
The United Nations Security Council may have approved Kenya-led Multinational Security Support mission (MSS to Haiti, but the cost of deploying the troops is something that may not be known until later next year.
On Monday, the UNSC passed Resolution 2699/23 to a vote of 13 and 2 abstentions. It paved the way for Kenya to deploy its pledged 1,000 police personnel. Other countries Jamaica, Antigua and Bermuda and the Bahamas were listed as having volunteered to send personnel too. Mongolia, Spain, Senegal and Belize had also expressed support while Canada has pledged to join the US in fundraising for the Mission.
The Council asked member states and regional organisations to “contribute personnel, equipment, and necessary financial and logistic resources based upon the urgent needs of the Multinational Security Support mission.”
Read:UN approves nations to deploy police to Haiti
Though mandated by the UN, the Mission may not directly get funding from the security funding channels of the global organisation, signaling that it will instead rely on donor support and other voluntary contributions from member states.
The Council indicated that the UN Secretary-General “may provide logistical support packages to the MSS, when requested by the MSS and MSS donors, subject to the full financial reimbursement to the UN through available voluntary contributions, and in full respect of the United Nations Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP.”
The Mission’s mandate or viability could be reviewed every periodically “on the understanding that the cost of implementing this temporary operation will be borne by voluntary contribution,” it added.
The US, which had drafted the resolution alongside Ecuador, has pledged an initial $100 million in financial assistance and another $100 million in technical support for the Mission. Canada has pledged technical support too.
“We intend to work with Congress to provide $100 million in support. And the Department of Defense is prepared to provide robust enabling support. We call on the rest of the international community to join us. We need more countries to step forward,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the UN told a telephonic press briefing on October 2.
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“If we act with urgency, the mission can deploy within months. And there is no time to waste.”
The MSS came about nearly a year after Haiti formally requested external assistance to combat the gang violence. But Russia and China abstained from the vote, arguing elevating the deployment Chapter VII of the UN Charter was a bar too high, and that the lack of a stable government was likely to worsen the situation.
The Mission will work alongside Haitian National Police including training and equipping local officers “to counter gangs and improve security conditions in Haiti, characterised by kidnappings, sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants and arms, homicides, extrajudicial killings, and recruitment of children by armed groups and criminal networks.”
MSS will also guard critical installations such as the main airport, seaport and schools and hospitals but will be compelled to use force only when proportionate. The leadership of the Mission will also be required to table periodic reports, and strategy to combat rights violations and will be encouraged to use community policing.
Read:Kenya promises different ‘footprint’ in Haiti
As such, all UN member states will, for the next one year, be barred from selling or transferring armed to Haiti.
The Council directed that necessary measures be taken to prevent such dealings but that any formal transfer of arms be only to the mandated Haitian authorities.
The cost of the MSS is likely to be higher as it will incorporate health and environmental conservation components as well as humanitarian support arms.
This week, Kenya said it was ready to deploy, indicating it is something it loves doing.
“It is very sad that at one time we were country number four at peace keeping missions over the years we are now at number 41Three months ago, parliament passed the National Peace Support Operations Fund Regulations, 2023 that creates the National Peace Support Operations Fund, into which the government is expected to contribute Ksh1 billion ($6.9 million.
The money will go towards supporting the operations of Kenyan troops in the countries they are deployed to.
Funds related to the participation of Kenyan troops in various missions were always paid from the Consolidated Fund making it difficult for the Ministry of Defence to support such troops’ operations.
In the past, Kenya participated in peacekeeping missions in 44 peacekeeping missions globally, including the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis, East African Community Regional Force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UN Transition Assistant Group in Namibia, the UN Protection Force in Croatia.
Read:Kenya-Haiti mission faces controversy over legality
The deployment set to kick off in January next year has sparked controversy owing to the odds facing the officers. President William Ruto promised to leave a “different footprint” in Haiti, drawing lessons from past failed interventions.
Amnesty International UK Executive Director Sacha Deshmukh added that any intervention force anywhere around the world needs to have ground support from the citizens it’s going to protect which stems from the locals understanding that the intervening force has a deep understanding of the country’s human rights and context of the situation they are setting themselves up for.
“I would genuinely question the deployment of an intervention force that doesn’t have that level of understanding. We have seen in history that such an intervention can come in and add new safety issues in the location where they are intervening and that is definitely my concern with this one,” he said.
Some observers say Kenya should be given benefit of the doubt, given the officers have dealt with local gangs before, albeit controversially.
“The mission should not enter Haiti with a binary approach of an enemy to vanquish and a government to prop up. The mission should simply do what President Ruto recommended, that it should “solely provide an appropriate environment for the leadership…to usher in stability, development, and democratic governance, through a political framework owned and driven by the people of Haiti,” said Nasong’o Muliro, a foreign policy and security specialist at the Global Centre for Policy and Strategy think-tank in Nairobi.
Read:Kenya faces scrutiny over Haiti mission
“However, the existential threat to Kenya police and the multinational mission is not the marauding gangs, but the sincerity of its backers – the USA. The matter that needs unequivocal assurance is whether the USA has genuinely resolved to see Haiti return to a functional state by fully supporting Kenya and the mission.”
Kenya’s team is set to comprise of units from its special Administration Police Service including those from Border Patrol Unit (BPU, Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU and the General Service Unit (GSU who are neither conversant with the local terrain nor the local languages making the mission a risky affair not just to the locals but to the officers themselves some analysts have argued.