Haiti airport reopens ahead of deployment of Kenyan police officers

After being closed for about three months, Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint-Louverture airport resumed operations a few days before 1,000 Kenyan police officers are sent to Haiti.

The airport was reopened on Monday, May 20, with only one airline operating at this time. Other airlines are also expected to resume operations in the coming weeks.

U.S. airlines are also expected to resume flights to and from the Caribbean nation in late May or early June.

The reopening was greeted with enthusiasm by locals. Before the reopening, residents had to move to Cap-Haïtien where another airport is located.

Haitian gang leaders take control of the country’s main prison.

Photo

Odelyn Joseph/AP

“There are thousands of people who wanted to travel, but for a while they couldn’t travel. I have my tent that I had to live in for more than three months. Many people were suffering,” one resident told AP Television News.

The airport had been closed due to increased gang violence, this was after former Prime Minister Henry Ariel traveled to Kenya to sign a bilateral treaty in March.

The gangs stopped all operations at the main airport preventing Ariel from returning to the country and he was forced to seek refuge in Puerto Rico. He was subsequently forced to resign.

While Ariel was away, the gang also broke into two major prisons, causing over 4,000 prisoners to escape, further exacerbating the situation. The gangs continued to wreak havoc and send warnings to the Kenyan-led Multinational Security Mission.

Due to the increase in crimes such as murders and kidnappings, the team led by Kenye is expected to bring peace to the Caribbean nation in the coming months.

The deployment of the 1,000 police officers is expected to take place in the next “few weeks or days”, according to Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing’Oei.

This deployment coincides with President William Ruto’s state visit to the United States from May 20 to 24. The United States has been one of the largest financiers of the Multinational Security Mission.

The United States initially promised to fund the mission with 12.8 billion shillings ($100 million), but only 2.7 billion shillings have been disbursed after Republican politicians expressed concerns.

However, the United States has remained committed to ensuring the effectiveness of the Kenyan-led peacekeeping mission. The nation has even gone so far as to order troops to build barracks for foreign soldiers before the mission.

Other countries such as Canada and Benin have offered help in terms of funding and more troops respectively.

Jamaica, the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda also volunteered to send more police officers.

Haitians living in fear await the deployment of troops to quell the violence.

Haitian gangs in Port-au-Prince.

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Fox 13 Tampa Bay