Why Haitians do not want a UN mission in their country

Tuesday May 28 2024

A boy walks past a group of armed police officers during protests to demand the resignation of Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Port-au-Prince in February. Reuters


Haitians are very vocal about their objection to the peace-keeping mission authorised by the United Nations Security Council that is set to begin later this month.

Hounded by political turmoil, instability, wars and gang infestations, the UN has often sent in troops to calm the restive nation.

But diseases brought in by the visiting troops, cases of human rights violations and feelings that their sovereignty is being trampled on have made Haitians wary of such missions.

Read: Ruto defends Haiti police deployment in US visit

In 2010, Haiti was hit by a cholera outbreak during a similar UN peace mission leading to the deaths of 30,000 people. A total of 820,000 cases were recorded. Haiti was in February 2022 declared cholera free and, to date, is seeking justice for the epidemic.

A study conducted by French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux established that UN troops from Nepal, rather than environmental factors, had caused the epidemic as waste from outhouses at their base flowed into and contaminated RiverArtibonite.


Also at the time, many women and men claimed they were sexually abused by the UN peace keeping officers.

Read:Contractors arrive in Haiti to build base for Kenyan-led forces

With the latest planned UN mission, civil rights groups in Haiti have accused the US of using Kenya to meddle in the Caribbean country’s internal affairs.

“Why is the US so much interested in the affairs of Haiti? Why are they using the Kenyan government to interfere with our issues yet we have not invited them,” said Mr Eliphete Joseph, the leader of the Movement Unforgettable Dessalines Jean Jacques.

'Hero' gangs

It is also emerging that Haitians see the gangs that are operating in their country as heroes. Mr Wethzer Piercin, a crime and investigations journalist based in Haiti, told the Nation that the gangs portray themselves as freedom fighters.

“Most people in Haiti tend to see that the gangs are fighting for their freedom and now that they have joined hands then the situation is complicated,” he said.

Haitians do not want any sort of assistance from the US because most of the firearms being used by gang members originate from there. Recent seizures of illegal weapons exposed how easy it is for gun-runners to operate.

Read:How Kenya is planning for Haiti security mission

With only 294 officers, the country’s national police border patrol has 181 personnel, and a single vessel for its coast guard. The Caribbean nation is greatly underfunded.

Illegal firearms

Haiti has 1,770km of coastline and a 392km land border with the Dominican Republic. This has made it easy for the proliferation of illegal firearms.

History between the US and Haiti has also been fraught with tension. In 1915, the then-US President Woodrow Wilson sent marines to Haiti to restore order and maintain political and economic stability in a mission that lasted until 1934. This occupation was furiously fought by Haitians who rebelled and waged guerilla warfare against the occupiers.

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

For the Haitians, efforts by the US to bring peace to their country have only resulted in them losing their autonomy. Haiti expert Jeffery Somers says as much in his article: ‘The US Power Elite and the Political Economy Occupation: Investment, Race and World Order’ published by the Journal on Haitian Studies in 2015.

“The US had a hemispheric hegemonic agenda that drove it to promote an investment agenda targeted in Haiti. It justified its violation of Haiti’s sovereignty through longstanding deeply entrenched racial stereotypes and civilisation taxonomies,” he said.