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Is Kenya’s mission to Haiti driven by empathy or financial interests?

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In the wake of Haiti’s recent catastrophe, the global community has joined forces to support the Caribbean nation. In particular, Kenya has taken the lead in coordinating a multinational security effort, with the backing of the United States and other countries such as Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda.

However, as Kenya’s mission to Haiti gains momentum, some have voiced concerns about the underlying motivations behind this humanitarian effort.

Is Kenya's mission to Haiti driven by empathy or financial interests?
FILE – Flanked by members of the G9 gang coalition, leader Jimmy Cherizier, aka Barbecue, right, talks to reporters near the perimeter wall that encloses Terminal Varreux, the port owned by the Mevs family, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 6, 2021.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed the nation’s commitment to assisting Haiti in its time of need. The United States has pledged crucial resources, including intelligence, airlift, communications, and medical support. This support is pending approval by the U.N. Security Council, but it underscores the urgency of the situation and the need for international assistance to restore stability in Haiti.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has also called for help from the international community. He highlighted the pressing need for police and military personnel to combat the wide range of criminal activities that are plaguing the country, such as kidnapping, pillaging, fires, massacres, human trafficking, and the recruitment of child soldiers. Haiti’s situation is dire, and it requires immediate attention and action.

Kenya has stepped forward to offer its support by promising to deploy 1,000 police personnel as part of the multinational security mission in Haiti. This commitment is seen as a significant contribution to the efforts to restore stability and protect the citizens of Haiti. However, questions have been raised about Kenya’s true intentions behind this mission.

Some critics argue that Kenya’s involvement in Haiti is driven by financial interests rather than genuine empathy for the Haitian people. They point out that Kenya is a developing nation with its own economic challenges, and it stands to benefit financially from this mission. They question whether Kenya’s motivation is to capitalise on the tragedy in Haiti through lucrative contracts and financial gains.

During a meeting in Nairobi, the U.S. Secretary of Defense expressed gratitude to Kenya for stepping up and assuming leadership of the Haiti mission. The U.S. government also pledged $100 million in funding for the mission. However, critics argue that financial incentives might have played a role in Kenya’s decision, given the significant amount of funding involved and Haiti’s history of foreign interventions resulting in chaos.

Sending 1,000 police officers to a politically unstable country like Haiti has raised concerns among many. Kenya already faces internal security challenges, and this move has attracted attention within the country.

While supporters argue that military intervention is necessary to address Haiti’s growing instability, gang violence, and humanitarian crises, it is crucial to examine the hidden geopolitical motivations behind this deployment.

Is Kenya's mission to Haiti driven by empathy or financial interests?
President Ruto and Haitian interim Prime Minister, Ariel Henry in New York

The United States appears to be the mastermind behind this idea but is reluctant to take on a leadership role despite its well-equipped military capabilities. Instead, they have placed Kenya at the forefront, prompting questions about whether Nairobi’s involvement is truly voluntary or influenced by external pressure.

The recent dynamics between the United States and Canada regarding the leadership of a mission in Haiti showcase some complexities. Initially, Washington proposed that Canada take charge due to its advantageous linguistic and geographical position in the Western Hemisphere.

However, Ottawa pushed back on this suggestion, refusing to be entangled in what they perceived as a potentially challenging situation akin to the difficulties faced in Haiti, as reported by Canadian public broadcaster, CBC.

During his visit to Nairobi on Monday, the U.S. Secretary of Defense met with President Ruto and Defense Minister Aden Duale to express gratitude for Kenya’s willingness to assume leadership of the Haiti mission. The United States government also affirmed its commitment to working with Congress to secure the promised funding of $100 million on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Critics argue that financial incentives might be a motivating factor for Kenya, especially considering the substantial funding from the U.S. However, given Haiti’s troubled history with foreign interventions leading to chaos within their borders, offering to send 1,000 police officers is seen by many as a risky move. Given Kenya’s significant obligations related to internal security, this decision has raised concerns among domestic observers.

Is Kenya's mission to Haiti driven by empathy or financial interests?
President Ruto when he met Pentagon Chief, Austin Lloyd at State House, Nairobi

Military intervention in the Caribbean nation is seen by proponents as necessary to address the increasing instability, gang violence, and humanitarian crises. Understanding the complex geopolitical dynamics at play is crucial.

The United States is positioned at the forefront of this deployment, seemingly driving the initiative. However, it is noteworthy that while the US supports this intervention, it hesitates to assume a leadership role despite its considerable military capabilities.

Instead, Kenya has been brought into focus by Washington, raising questions about whether Nairobi’s involvement is voluntary or influenced by external pressures.

An interesting twist arises when examining the recent exchange between the US and Canada. Initially, Washington advocated for Canada to lead the force earlier this year due to its linguistic and geographic advantages in the Western Hemisphere.

Nevertheless, Ottawa resisted, refusing to be entangled in what they perceived as a potentially problematic situation in Haiti according to Canadian public broadcaster CBC.

On the other hand, proponents of Kenya’s mission argue that it is driven by genuine compassion and a sense of duty to assist a fellow nation in need. They highlight Kenya’s long history of contributing to international peacekeeping efforts and its commitment to promoting stability and security in the African region. They argue that Kenya’s involvement in Haiti is a reflection of its strong moral compass and its willingness to extend a helping hand to those in distress.


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