The United States calls for rapid police deployment in Haiti after the death of missionaries | police news

US President Joe Biden’s administration has called for the rapid deployment of a Kenyan-led security force to Haiti following the killing of three missionaries working with a US group in the violence-stricken Caribbean country.

Friday’s appeal came shortly after the nonprofit Missions in Haiti Inc announced that three of its missionaries were shot dead by gunmen Thursday night in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

The deaths are the latest in months of spiraling violence in Port-au-Prince, which remains largely under the control of powerful armed groups that have unleashed a wave of deadly attacks across the city.

They also came as Kenyan President William Ruto concluded a visit to Washington, DC, where he met with Biden and other senior US leaders to discuss a range of issues, including the long-stalled Haiti deployment.

“The security situation in Haiti cannot wait,” a National Security Council spokesperson said on Friday, adding that Biden had pledged to support the “accelerated deployment” of the Kenyan-led force in talks with Ruto on Thursday. .

“Our hearts go out to the families of those murdered who are experiencing unimaginable pain,” the spokesperson added, referring to the missionaries.

Missouri state Rep. Ben Baker on Friday identified his daughter, Natalie Lloyd, and son-in-law, Davy Lloyd, among those killed.

The couple had been working as full-time missionaries in the country, and Davy Lloyd was the son of Missions in Haiti Inc founders David and Alicia Lloyd, who started the organization in 2000.

The identity of the third person killed has not been released.

The United Nations and other humanitarian organizations have been calling for more support for Haiti’s citizens amid years of gang violence and political instability, which worsened after the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise.

The most recent wave of unrest, which began in February with gang attacks on police stations, prisons and other state institutions, forced Haiti’s unelected prime minister, Ariel Henry, to resign.

An interim presidential council has since been appointed to run the country, but great concerns and uncertainty remain.

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Haiti warned earlier this month that “hundreds of thousands of people, including many women and children, are trapped in violence that shows little sign of abating.”

As of mid-March, more than 360,000 Haitians were internally displaced across the country, according to the UN, and at least 1,500 people have died in gang violence since the beginning of the year.

However, while many civil society leaders and Haitian citizens say the country’s depleted and ill-equipped police force needs help to restore security, the imminent deployment of Kenyan-led foreign forces continues to raise questions.

Kenya has committed 1,000 police officers to the U.N.-backed mission, which is being largely funded by the United States and aims to counter gangs. The deployment is expected to include up to 2,500 people.

But it is still unclear when the mission will begin after officials have said it could be launched to coincide with Kenyan President Ruto’s visit to the United States.

Citing two anonymous sources, the Reuters news agency reported on Thursday that the deployment had been delayed.

Daniel Foote, a former US special envoy to Haiti who has criticized the Biden administration’s policies, also told Al Jazeera earlier this week that the mission’s mandate is unclear.

“Do they have the authority to arrest? Are they going to go offensive against the gangs or are they going to protect the infrastructure and not move? Nobody knows,” Foote said Thursday after Biden and Ruto held a news conference at the White House.

Many Haitians also remain wary of outside intervention after previous foreign missions failed to bring stability or address systemic problems in the country.

More recently, a U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti was linked to a deadly cholera outbreak and accusations of sexual abuse.

Pressed on the new police deployment in Haiti during Thursday’s press conference, Ruto said Kenya “believes that the responsibility for peace and security anywhere in the world, including Haiti, is the responsibility of all nations.”

Kenya’s president promised the deployment would “break the back” of gangs in the country.

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