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The U.N. Security Council approves sending Kenya-led force to quell violence in Haiti

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The United Nations Security Council has approved sending a Kenya-led multinational force to Haiti. It was nearly a year ago that Haiti's prime minister, Ariel Henry, called for international help because his country was being overrun by gangs. NPR's Eyder Peralta has been following this from his base in Mexico City and joins us now. Good morning, Eyder.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So if you could first just explain how we got here and what exactly this resolution says.

PERALTA: So look, Haiti has been spiraling out of control ever since 2021. That's when President Jovenel Moise was assassinated. And since then, gangs have taken control of the capital. And they're exacting terrible violence on the population there, so Haiti has been unable to hold elections. And more recently, we've seen Haitians take matters into their own hands. We've seen mobs killing alleged gang members on the streets.

FADEL: Wow.

PERALTA: And this resolution was very much led by the United States. And it gives a green light for an international force to come into Haiti and to try and rein in this anarchy. It approves the force for one year, and the approval will be reviewed after nine months. The U.S. has been trying to get this done for a year, but it could not find a country to lead that force until Kenya raised its hand and volunteered its police.

FADEL: OK, so Kenya volunteers. What do we know about Kenya's police?

PERALTA: So I lived there for years and they have a mixed record. They've sent security forces to other peacekeeping missions. But at home, Kenya's security forces have been accused of all kinds of human rights abuses from extrajudicial killings to arbitrary arrests, to forced disappearances.

FADEL: Oh.

PERALTA: After the security council voted to approve this mission, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, took questions from reporters. And I asked her, knowing the record of the Kenyan police, are you sure this is a good idea? And are the Kenyans up to the task? Let's listen.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We put strong accountability, strong vetting language in the resolution. And we plan to work to engage all of the participating member states to urge them to hold accountable any of their personnel who might be implicated in such violence. We've had very intense discussions with the Kenyans on this, and we're confident that they will be able to carry out this mission.

PERALTA: So Ambassador, I mean, I've seen the Kenyan police in action. I have seen them indiscriminately beat Kenyans. Back in 2017, they shot and killed dozens of protesters. I saw bodies in downtown Nairobi. And similar clashes have been repeated over the past year. I mean, does this mean - about accountability, what you just talked about - that we can hold the United States responsible for what the Kenyan forces do in Haiti?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I wouldn't say you can hold the United States responsible, but we will hold the Kenyans responsible, and that's what the resolution calls for. And I think that's an important inclusion in the resolution, that we've added the strong language of accountability, the strong vetting language, the strong language on transparency and on human rights. And I can assure you that the U.S. will engage on these issues very, very aggressively.

FADEL: Eyder, is there any sense of when this deployment might actually happen?

PERALTA: We don't have a timetable. The U.S. says it can happen in months if everything goes smoothly. The Kenyans are also saying months, but they've said it could be as late as January. But there's still more to do. The U.S., for example, is hoping more countries will offer more money and more troops for this mission.

FADEL: That's NPR's Eyder Peralta. Thanks, Eyder.

PERALTA: Thank you, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel
Leila Fadel is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is an international correspondent for NPR. He was named NPR's Mexico City correspondent in 2022. Before that, he was based in Cape Town, South Africa. He started his journalism career as a pop music critic and after a few newspaper stints, he joined NPR in 2008.