Biden Taps Kenya for Coalition Force in Gang-Ridden Haiti

Kenya’s deployment of a multinational security force into the gang-ridden nation of Haiti has been delayed multiple times, but bipartisan support for the mission remains strong.

President Joe Biden and his Kenyan counterpart defended the mission on Thursday, saying they believe it can help bring peace and stability to the volatile Caribbean country.

Additionally, Biden finally explained publicly why he is against sending American soldiers to Haiti. Though it’s geographically closer to Florida than Nairobi, the United States’ tumultuous relationship with Haiti dates back to the early 1900s, when the country was still reeling from a presidential murder and the subsequent deployment and 19-year presence of Marines.

To celebrate 60 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will be joined this week by President William Ruto of Kenya and his wife Rachel on a state visit. The Rutos’ arrival in the US coincided with the arrival in Port-au-Prince of a six-person assessment team consisting of top security planners from Nairobi. Their mission was to ascertain if the necessary arrangements were in place for the first deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police personnel.

Haitian and U.S. congressional sources informed the Miami Herald and McClatchy that the team discovered a lack of equipment necessary to undertake medical evacuations in the event of fatalities. This equipment includes anything from helicopters to armored vehicles. Expectations that the news conference would include a statement on the arrival of the troops were promptly shattered by reality.

Neither Biden nor Ruto has set a date for the deployment. Neither of them dealt with the criticisms leveled about the mission’s unreadiness.

Additionally, Ruto sidestepped a question on the role of the Kenyans in the Haitian police force, stating that they would be more of a static force tasked with defending critical government facilities such as the harbor and airport rather than actively participating in operations.

Even while they wait for the Kenyan government to submit several paperwork, including its rules of engagement, to the U.S. Security Council before deployment, sources have said that this is still up for dispute.

Despite neither leader mentioning Haiti or its continuing gang insurgency during their speeches earlier Thursday on the White House grounds, the nation was a big topic during the joint news conference.