Kenyan police will monitor the White House, the airport and the roads of Haiti

A Kenyan reconnaissance team has identified key locations where more than 2,500 police officers will be deployed in Haiti.

The team, led by Deputy Inspector General of Administrative Police, Noor Gabow, returned to Kenya on May 27, after a week-long tour, and embarked on writing a report on their findings ahead of their planned deployment.

Sources familiar with the developments said the team has agreed with local leaders that they will take charge of the main port, the airport, the main hospital, two main roads and the White House, which is the presidential palace.

“If necessary, officers will be sent to other areas to support local teams,” a source said.

The team said there are police officers on the ground but they appear to be overwhelmed and unmotivated.

The team said Haitian police officers need to be retrained, according to the report they will deliver.

President William Ruto said the peacekeeping police force is expected to arrive in Haiti to help quell rising gang violence in about three weeks.

Officers were expected to begin arriving before the end of May, but an advance team on the ground said some of the logistics are not ready, hence the extension for two more weeks.

This means that the latest they can get there is June 15, Ruto said.

In Haiti, there are high hopes that the arrival of foreign forces will help loosen the tight grip of armed gangs that have caused shortages of medicine and food, the team found.

Kenya, which heads the 2,500-member security force, agreed with the Haitian government on rules of engagement for security personnel.

The delegation met with the seven members of the Presidential Transitional Council, which serves as the president until a new president is elected and sworn in.

They also met with police commanders to discuss and determine the path forward.

They established that some of Haiti’s police officers need to be retrained on various topics, including combat, law enforcement and policing.

And as part of the agreement, at least 2,000 Haitian police officers will fly to Kenya for training.

The mid- and lower-level officers will be flown to Kenya for brief training in law, combat and other law enforcement matters, before returning home for deployment.

But the agreement has not yet been committed to writing or submitted to the United Nations Security Council, a prerequisite for the multinational security mission, or MSS, to begin.

The Kenyan delegation found that Haiti lacks the equipment to accommodate the deployment of police officers.

The team discovered that the country not only lacks armored vehicles to transport foreign troops, but also faces a shortage of radios and communications equipment.

The mission still needs to secure helicopters to evacuate potential victims from the country, where dozens of hospitals have been destroyed or looted since Feb. 29, when gangs united to overthrow the government.

In April, President Joe Biden authorized a $60 million military aid package using what is called presidential drawdown authority to put rifles and ammunition into the hands of the Haitian National Police and allow the Kenyan-led force to deploy quickly.

Without the funds, whether from the United States or other countries, supporters fear the country will face not only a complete takeover by gangs, but also a humanitarian catastrophe.

Earlier this month, members of Haiti’s newly installed presidential transitional council, tasked with forming a new government, wrote to Ruto asking him to deploy the Kenyan police.

The police officers will serve as the backbone of a force that will include officers from at least six different countries in Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia.

In addition to Kenya, other countries that will send officers to Haiti are Chile, Jamaica, Grenada, Paraguay, Burundi, Chad, Nigeria and Mauritius.

The Kenyan teams are from the Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU), Anti-Robbery Unit (ASTU), General Service Unit (GSU) and Border Patrol Unit (BPU).

This is a combat-trained team that officials say can handle the situation on the ground professionally.

They have received training in various areas, including language.

Ruto confirmed that a planning team had met with local police in Haiti to secure arrangements before Kenyan troops are deployed.

The president’s comments came at the conclusion of a three-day trip to Washington, DC, the first official state visit by an African leader to the United States in more than 15 years.

During his trip, the White House called for the rapid deployment of the Kenyan-led multinational force, after an American couple was named among three missionaries killed in Haiti on Friday.

Last year, Kenya offered to lead a UN-backed multinational security force to restore order on the Caribbean island.

Gangs have taken over much of Haiti, bringing violence and destruction to its besieged capital, Port-au-Prince, following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.

On May 25, two American missionaries were murdered in Haiti by gangs.

Ruto said these types of events are “exactly” why his country was preparing to send in its police force.

“We shouldn’t lose people. We shouldn’t lose missionaries. We’re doing this to prevent more people from losing their lives to gangs,” he said.

The United States is also part of the multinational coalition working with Kenya.

Ruto said a base where troops and equipment will be held, which is being built jointly with the United States, is “70 percent complete.”

He said Kenya has acted cautiously to ensure security concerns have been addressed, including plans for equipment, infrastructure and building a relationship with Haiti’s police force.

Ruto assured that there is a written agreement with Haiti’s transitional presidential council to ensure that Kenya’s presence is received as a “peacekeeping” force and not an occupying force.

The council has signaled that it intends to honor the agreement, which was signed by former Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Henry resigned in March after weeks of increasing pressure and violence in the country.

Ruto said he has Kenyans “in 15 different missions around the world,” including in neighboring Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.