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International Business Times
International Business Times
AFP News

Blinken Pushes To Finalize Lagging Haiti Force At G20

The US and Brazil co-hosted a meeting on the planned force for Haiti on the sidelines of talks between G20 foreign ministers in Rio de Janeiro (Credit: AFP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday pushed for progress on overdue plans to send a UN-backed multinational force to help violence-plagued Haiti.

The US and Brazil co-hosted a meeting on the planned force on the sidelines of talks between G20 foreign ministers in Rio de Janeiro.

Haiti has been in turmoil for years, with armed gangs taking over parts of the country and unleashing brutal violence, leaving the economy and public health system in tatters.

"I think it's safe to say that one of the most urgent challenges we face as an international community is in Haiti," Blinken told a meeting attended by representatives from Canada, Kenya, Haiti and the United Nations, among others.

"Improving the security situation is in our collective interests."

The island nation's government has long pleaded for international help to face the spiraling security crisis.

Last year, the UN Security Council gave the green light for just such a force, to be led by Kenya. But it has been held up by months of logistics issues, a legal challenge in Nairobi, and funding shortfalls.

Kenya's government had previously said it was ready to provide up to 1,000 personnel, and has vowed to challenge a high court ruling which said the deployment was "illegal."

While the United States has ruled out putting its own forces on the ground, Blinken said it would contribute $200 million to the force.

Canada, Benin, France, Germany and Jamaica also announced contributions of either money or personnel to the force, according to the US State Department.

Current estimates for the force, which has neither a clear financing nor operational plan, are that it would need at least 2,500 boots on the ground.

International observers say that while the security mission is important, Haiti's turmoil cannot be solved without domestic political dialogue.

The Dominican Republic warned earlier this month that its neighbor was on the verge of civil war.

President Luis Abinader, whose country shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti, said the time for "promises" to fund the force was over.

"Either the money comes now or the collapse of Haiti will be irreversible... Dominican Republic will fight with all its might to avoid being dragged into the same abyss."

Thursday's meeting comes a few days after a Haitian judge indicted dozens of people for the assassination of president Jovenel Moise, including his widow, a former prime minister and an ex-police chief.

Moise, 53, was gunned down in July 2021 at his private residence by a group of about 20 assailants, most of them Colombian mercenaries. His security detail did not intervene to protect him.

Since his death, Haiti has only spiraled deeper into chaos. No election has been held and Moise has not been succeeded as president.

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