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Haitians react to expected arrival of police force from Kenya

Four people ride on a a motorcycle taxi in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, June 24, 2024   -  
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Odelyn Joseph/Copyright 2024. AP All rights reserved

Haitian politics

Nearly two years after Haiti urgently requested help to quell a surge in gang violence, people in the country have mixed reactions to the news that hundreds of Kenyan police officers are finally heading to the troubled nation.

On Monday, in the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, some welcomed their arrival, while others viewed the force with caution.

Verna Siber is a teacher in Port-au-Prince.

He said “they have to be everywhere in the country if we are ever going to be free.”

Nathalie François, a nurse, said she thinks the solution to Haiti's problems is the responsibility of the country's people, but she welcomes any help if it allows residents the security they need to move freely in the country and feed themselves.

For Maxime Josaphat, an electrician in Port-au-Prince, he thinks it took too long for help to arrive.

“We have been suffering for four years,” he said.

The Kenyan police will lead a multinational force against the powerful gangs whose deadly violence spiked this year.

The Haitian National Police is underfunded and ill-equipped.

A U.N. report notes that it has only around 4,000 officers on duty at a time in a country of more than 11 million inhabitants.

It is not clear what the Kenyans’ first assignment would be.

Still, they face violent gangs that control 80% of Haiti’s capital and have left more than 580,000 people across the country homeless as they pillage neighborhoods in their quest to control more territory.

According to the U.N. Security Council, forces from countries including the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Chad, and Jamaica will join the Kenyans, for a total of 2,500 police officers who will be deployed in phases at an annual cost of some $600 million.