Fri, 01 Dec 2023

NEW YORK - The United States on Friday unveiled $65 million more in help for Haiti's police and urged the U.N. Security Council to formally back the deployment of a multinational security mission to help the Caribbean country fight crippling gang violence.

Speaking at a meeting in New York to address the security situation in Haiti, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the mission, led by Kenya, could deploy 'within months.'

'We really have no time to lose,' Blinken said.

Haiti last year asked for help to combat violent gangs that have largely overrun the capital Port-au-Prince. The council could vote as soon as next week, diplomats said, on a U.S.-drafted resolution supporting a multinational police deployment.

While not providing any troops, Blinken said the Biden administration will work with the U.S. Congress to provide $100 million to back the multinational mission with logistical and financial assistance. This could include intelligence support, airlift, communications and medical support, he said.

The $65 million announced Friday will aim to bolster the Haitian police capacity to dismantle the gangs, Blinken said. The U.S. was also imposing new visa bans on former and current Haitian officials whom Blinken said were enabling the violence.

Washington supports Kenya's vision for a three-part security mission that includes helping Haitian police, ensuring security for static installations and thoroughfares and strengthening law enforcement in the long term, Blinken said.

Kenyan President William Ruto told the General Assembly on Thursday: 'We must not leave Haiti behind.'

Countries have been wary of supporting the unelected administration of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has said fair elections cannot be held with the current insecurity. Haiti has been without any elected representatives since January.

'My interim government is determined to hold elections as soon as practically possible,' Henry told the General Assembly on Friday, adding that security in Haiti had deteriorated to a 'critical point' as 'criminals feel that they are all powerful.'

'I am asking for help to allow Haitians to stay in their homes,' he said, again requesting 'help to bolster the national police of Haiti so that it can truly respond to the challenges it faces' and for Security Council authorization for that help.

Haiti's most powerful gang leader this week called for the armed overthrow of Henry, urging Haitians to take to the streets against the unelected government.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the council last month that a 'robust use of force' by a multinational police deployment and the use of military assets were needed to restore law and order in Haiti and disarm gangs.

A multinational police deployment would not be a U.N. mission.

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