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New York Times | Troop deployment Kenyan officers from two paramilitary units chosen to go to Haiti

  • May 14, 2024
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New York Times

Abdi Latif Dahir interviewed several police officers in Kenya, who are expected to be part of an international security deployment to Haiti.

Since late last year, hundreds of Kenyan police officers have been training for the deployment of their lives: helping lead a multinational force tasked with ending gang-fueled lawlessness in Haiti.

The deployment divided the East African country from the start. It sparked heated debate in parliament and among officials in at least two ministries over whether Kenya should lead such a mission.

THE Courts also attempted to block the deployment, while activists and human rights groups, citing a history of abuses and unlawful killings by Kenyan police, strongly denounced it.

But the plan has received unwavering support from its main advocate, Kenyan President William Ruto, who said the response to the Caribbean nation’s deepening crisis was a call to “serve humanity.”

Today, several months after completing their training, Kenyan officers were recalled from leave this week to prepare to leave for Haiti, according to interviews with several police officers who are part of the planned deployment. The officers said they had no not received a specific date but that they planned to arrive in Haiti this month.

Some 400 officers were selected for the first deployment and began training, with an additional support staff of 100, including doctors. Another group, of similar size, will also prepare to deploy soon, they said.

The officers were drawn from the Kenya General Service Unit and Administrative Police, two paramilitary units responsible for intervening in everything from riots to cattle rustling to protecting the borders and the president.

The officers said they received physical training and weapons training from Kenyan and American security personnel, as well as detailed information on how Haitian gangs operate.

They also took French classes and lessons on human rights and Haitian history. Police officers said they were aware of the failures of previous international interventions in Haiti. But they argued that these interventions had been widely perceived by Haitians as occupying forces, when their goal is to support local police and protect civilians.

Besides the prestige that serving overseas brings, officers said the extra pay that comes with their service is another motivation.

read full text: Kenya Rallies Police Officers Ahead of Haiti Deployment – The New York Times (nytimes.com)