Kenya, US ink defense deal ahead of planned Haiti mission

Kenya and the United States have signed a defense agreement that will see the East African nation get resources and support for security deployments as it has volunteered to lead a multi-national peacekeeping mission to violence-plagued Haiti.

The accord, signed during the visit US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin paid to Kenya early this week, will guide the defense relations between the two countries for the next five years as the war in East Africa against the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab extremist group intensifies.

The signing of the framework for defense cooperation between the two countries reinforces the importance of US-Kenya strategic partnership, Austin Lloyd had said following the meeting.

The US defense secretary also thanked the Kenyan government for volunteering to take the leadership of a proposed, multinational force to Haiti and reiterated that the US government would work with Congress to secure the $100 million in funding that it pledged on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Kenya’s Defense Minister Aden Duale said his country was ready to deploy its troops to Haiti that has been struggling to respond to months of escalating gang violence. Gangs control most of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and Haitians face a barrage of attacks, including kidnappings for ransom and sexual violence. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes. In October 2022, Haiti’s de facto leader, Prime Minister Ariel Henry, called on the international community to help set up a “specialized armed force” to quell the violence.

Last month, Kenya pledged to send 1,000 security officers to Haiti to combat gang violence in a mission that is pending the UN Security Council’s formal approval. Human rights activists, however, have expressed concerns over the deployment, citing a history of human rights abuses during security operations in the African nation.