Kenya on 'standby' as US raises funds for Haiti mission

Thursday March 14 2024

A man rides a motorbike carrying people and their belongings along a street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on March 12, 2024. PHOTO | REUTERS


The US says it has increased funding for the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission in Haiti, as Kenya again said it was on standby to deploy.

A day after Nairobi said it would delay sending some 1,000 police officers to Haiti following the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, Washington again sought assurances from Nairobi.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called President William Ruto for the second time in less than a week to discuss the deployment. 

"Secretary Blinken briefed me on the decision of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Summit and the US, together with other partners, on the political situation in Haiti," President Ruto said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Read: Haiti mission: Ruto under pressure


"He informed me that a new Presidential Council will soon be formed to deal with the situation in Haiti. I assured Secretary Blinken that Kenya will lead the UN Security Support Mission in Haiti to restore peace and security in Haiti once the Presidential Council is in place through an agreed process."

Henry resigned on Monday night under pressure from the US and Caribbean leaders in their regional bloc, Caricom. But he has not yet handed over power because a presidential council has not been set up to take over on an interim basis. The country is now led by Finance Minister Michel Boisvert, who is acting as interim prime minister. 

But amid the back-and-forth, the US said it was increasing its pool of funds for the MSS to $300 million, after providing an additional $100 million "to facilitate the deployment of the MSS".

In a background briefing on Tuesday evening, a senior State Department official said $200 million would come from the Department of Defence and $100 million from the State Department.  On Monday, Blinken also announced an additional $33 million in humanitarian assistance "to help the Haitian people during this difficult time".

The official wouldn't clarify whether the Kenyan troops would be paid in advance, but he suggested that some of the State Department money would go towards salaries and other compensation.

"In terms of payment for deployment, it's a - let me just note that the US funds will go to prepare the facilities on the ground in Haiti in terms of the Department of Defense contribution. 

Read: Haiti called for security support. Who answered?

"And the State Department contribution may go to reimbursement or even advance funding of some salaries and other activities." 

The US, he says, will soon reimburse Kenya for training costs. The MSS and its funding, however, will require a wider pool of donations, mostly through a UN trust fund to be set up for the mission, as it will not tap into the available budget under the UN Department of Peace Operations. 

"How this trust fund will work, and whether there will be a mechanism to pre-fund costs for contributing nations, is still under discussion. 

"But there are other donors who have pledged to contribute. 

"The issue of pre-funding has been something we're very aware of.  It's been part of the discussions we've had with many of the donors."

Canada has pledged $91 million for its contribution.

Meanwhile, the US has said that the Presidential Council that will run Haiti in the interim will exclude those sanctioned for human rights violations or other crimes, gang leaders and presidential candidates in the planned elections, as well as those who oppose the MSS.

This includes most of the gang leaders who have been fomenting violence in Haiti recently.