Multinational Force Led by Kenya to Assist Haiti in Restoring Order Amidst Gang Violence

Multinational Force Led by Kenya to Assist Haiti in Restoring Order Amidst Gang Violence

For the past three years, Haiti has been embroiled in violence by the gangs fighting for power and control of the island-nation. The country’s population has been held hostage and despite efforts from international non-profits, the million living in Haiti in a cataclysmic situation. Fortunately, a multinational force, led by Kenya, is preparing to assist Haitian authorities in restoring the government and cracking down on gangs. Reporter Vejea Alvarez tells us how Belize is preparing to do its part.

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: On Saturday, 30 Belize Defence Force (BDF) soldiers and twenty Belize Coast Guard (BCG) officers left for Jamaica. But the men aren’t in JA to enjoy the country’s irie vibes, they are there to train for possible deployment to Haiti. Since the assassination of Haiti’s President in 2021, the country has plunged into a state of lawlessness and is unable to contain the group of deadly gangs that have seized power in parts of the country. Fortunately, its sister nations, Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, have pledged support and are now working with the Canadian Armed Forces in hopes of going in and getting things under control. 

RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “This is the second step of training that will prepare our men for the possible deployment into Haiti. First set of training occurred in January here in country with these very same fifty soldiers and sailors that have now gone to Jamaica for training. These are the same fifty men underwent the training again by the Canadians in country to understand the scope of peacekeeping operations under the United Nations. So they looked at human rights issues, use of force policies on how to interact and engage with the local population when it comes to conducting these types of operations so that occurred in January. What you’re seeing now is the second phase of this exercise and preparation. Belize is now in Jamaica working along with the Bahamians as well to standardize these trainings.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The training exercise is part of a multinational exercise dubbed, “Trogon Shield”, and includes military forces from the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. Commandant of the BCG, Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, says the main goal will be to install a new and legitimate government in the war-torn country. 

RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “What we’re looking at is in support of what is currently a transitional presidential council that has been set up in Haiti that will lead the nation into general elections. So that’s the authority that we have under the United Nations resolution in support of Kenya’s approval to go into Haiti we are there in support of that to support in stabilizing the country, reducing the violent crimes and creating that stable environment for them to be able to hold general elections.”

Reporter: Do you foresee if there is possible deployment to Haiti will these soldiers be in any combat like situations ? 

RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “Well it’s a high risk environment without a doubt when you look at the nature of violence in Haiti. I don’t want to say combat but it’s definitely a high risk, very unstable situation in Haiti so yes they will be involved with working along with the Kenyan Police, working in these high risk environments facing these criminal networks that have established themselves in Haiti. So it is indeed a very high risk operation.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The Coast Guard men were selected from the BCG’s special operations unit and will spend four weeks training in Jamaica. Rear Admiral Bennett says that while the men are highly skilled, they will participate in full mission planning and scenario driven serials that are designed to prepare them for actual operations in Haiti. 

RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “What we’re looking at is in support of what is currently a transitional presidential council that has been set up in Haiti that will lead the nation into general elections. So that’s the authority that we have under the United Nations resolution in support of Kenya’s approval to go into Haiti we are there in support of that to support in stabilizing the country, reducing the violent crimes and creating that stable environment for them to be able to hold general elections.”

Reporter: Do you foresee if there is possible deployment to Haiti will these soldiers be in any combat like situations ? 

RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “Well it’s a high risk environment without a doubt when you look at the nature of violence in Haiti. I don’t want to say combat but it’s definitely a high risk, very unstable situation in Haiti so yes they will be involved with working along with the Kenyan Police, working in these high risk environments facing these criminal networks that have established themselves in Haiti. So it is indeed a very high risk operation.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: According to the United Nations human rights office, gang violence has killed more than 1,500 people and injured 826 in Haiti so far this year. So given the death and violence plaguing Haiti, Belize’s soldiers face real danger if they are sent over. However, Bennett says the government has policies in place to safeguard the families’ of the men, if they are injured of killed in the line of duty. 

RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “This is strictly men from the Coast Guard’s Special Operations Unit. These are our best trained, best equipped men that we can put into very import missions like this and know that the guys are our best that we are putting forward. So the Coast Guard Special Operations group forms the core of the team that has been deployed to Jamaica for that training. These guys are very well prepared they have been doing training in the region for quite some time. They’ve been in Jamaica to do special forces training, they’ve been doing this for the past two to three years. Last year they went into Colombia as part of the regional exercise under the exercise Unitas. So they’re very versed in operating in the region and doing exercise in preparation for high risk preparations.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Bennet says that upon completion, the contingent will return to Belize and await deployment until the legislative framework is finalized, all administrative arrangement made, and equipment for the mission is secured. 

RADM Elton Bennett, BCG Commandant: “As with the nature of any operation whether here in Belize or overseas the Government of Belize has systems in place, administrative procedures to ensure that the government worker is looked after regardless of what the situation is.”

Vejea Alvarez, Love News.

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