At the annual UN General Assembly in New York on September 21, 2023, President William Ruto used his allocated time to pitch for Haitian case, insisting that “Haiti is the ultimate test of international solidarity and collective action, as it deserves better from the world”. Considering the plethora of current global crises, Haiti is not the ultimate test of international solidarity.
That Haiti is a perilous failed state is everyone’s knowledge. However, it is totally flummoxing to entertain the idea that a country like Kenya can deliver Haiti from the abyss of self-destruction that marauding gangs have thrown the third largest country in the Caribbean into.
This has led to kidnappings, crime, civil unrest and lack of healthcare, among other ills.
Personally, I doubt that Kenya can do it and restore sanity to Haiti. There are three main reasons for this doubt.
First, Kenya does not have the police numbers to cover Port-au-Prince. It has been said that other countries will be contributing to the intervention force, but that is a risk rather than a strength.
The more diverse the number of countries, the more difficult to establish a command structure for a regular police operation.
During the recent Azimio-inspired demonstrations, the Kenya Kwanza administration recalled the police officers allocated to Azimio politicians, ostensibly to assist those policing the demonstrations since “there weren’t enough policemen” as claimed by the country’s second in command.
So where are they going to find policemen and women to send to Haiti?
The second reason is linguistic. Apart from the creole widely spoken by the Haitian hollo polloi, French is the official language. Again, the problem of communication, so critical in such a interventionist operation, is missing.
The third reason is financial. Even though the UN Security Council on Monday finally approved a one-year deployment albeit with several conditionalities. The most prominent was that it will be under voluntary contribution.
That means, there would be no budget presented for discussion and agreement. It remains incumbent on the mission lead (Kenya in this case) to marshal the required financial resources.
Kenya should ask herself why other countries have been shy to invest in the security of Haiti, including other Caribbean sister states, much less USA.
Lastly, and related to this, is the fact that Africa, and Kenya in particular, has a myriad of challenges to attend to urgently.
Why prioritize a distant Caribbean Haiti when DR Congo, Somalia, Sudan – all in our neighbourhood – are somewhat under control of ‘gangs’? What is so eviscerating about those gangs in Haiti?
From the foregoing, it is clear that Kenya should not carry the failed state burden of Haiti as if it is Haiti’s last remaining sibling.
For Haiti, Kenya certainly risks biting more than it can chew and daring to go where even the angels fear to tread. Time will tell.
Dominic Omolo, Nairobi