A Kenyan-led multinational force will hopefully help bring some semblance of stability to Haiti, where gang violence has escalated into a form of “urban guerrilla” warfare, the Caribbean country’s police chief tells AFP.

The UN Security Council gave the green light this month for the deployment of a thousand-strong support force led by Kenyan police, after a year of repeated calls for help from Haiti.

Frantz Elbe, who has led the Haitian National Police for two years, told AFP in an email interview that his force “was not created to confront armed criminal urban guerrilla groups”.

“The gangs, which control about 80 percent of the capital Port-au-Prince, have military grade weapons and connections with mafia networks, transnational criminals and major financial resources,” he said.

Read: Haiti welcomes Kenya offer to bolster security

The Western Hemisphere’s vulnerable nation has been in turmoil for years, even before the assassination of president Jovenel Moise in 2021 created a spiralling political crisis.


The economy and public health system are in tatters, there is barely a functioning government, and elections have not been held since 2016.

‘The gangs have continued to grow in size and have attained more and more powerful weapons,” said Elbe.

“Fifteen years ago or so, gangsters had a pistol, a revolver.” But today “they are armed with assault rifles.”

Thousands have been forced to flee from their homes and vigilante groups have emerged as Haitians try to defend themselves.

Police have scored some wins, Elbe said, citing raids in which suspected gang members were arrested or severely wounded in shootouts with security forces.

He said police have also managed to seize a large number of guns and ammunition.

But the country remains in a state of “generalised terror” because of the urban guerrilla gang presence, with not enough police who specialise in tackling this kind of problem, he said.

“So a strong, specialized and dissuasive international force could join in with the Haitian National Police in major operations to dismantle armed gangs,” said Elbe, who was appointed by Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Read: Haitian PM says was targeted in assassination attempt

Elbe said the Kenyan force will probably be equipped with materiel suited to fighting gangs and expressed hope that it will help his people “carry out their operations more efficiently”.

He hopes the force will be able to “conduct joint training and simulation sessions with specialized units” of the national police and be able to “transfer technology” and equipment at the end of their mission.

The UN did not give a timetable for when the deployment might start, and a court in Kenya put the whole thing on hold Monday amid complaints that the mission is not backed up by any law or treaty.

Read: Kenya-Haiti mission faces controversy over legality

But Kenyan President William Ruto has defended the mission as a humanitarian gesture for a country he said has “borne the brunt of colonial plunder and repression.”

He also noted that Kenya’s lengthy history participating in peace-keeping missions.

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