Kenyan forces
Kenyan forces arrive in Haiti AFP

Kenyan forces that arrived in Haiti will initially have a "static" role, helping protect key infrastructure in the country rather than fighting the gangs that control large swaths of the country, a member of its transitional council told The Washington Post.

However, Leslie Voltaire said, the force will become more "dynamic" and could be expected to help local law enforcement engage with the criminal organizations as they seek to quash the current levels of violence.

So far, 400 officials from the African country have reached Haiti. The figure is expected to climb to 1,000, while additional forces from other seven countries (Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Benin and Chad) are set to take it to 2,500. Most of the funding is coming from the U.S., with Canada and France also contributing with funding and training.

The force will face a daunting task, as well as phantoms from the past, considering several previous interventions in Haiti have gone awry. They will face much more sophisticated gangs and a decimated local police. Haiti currently has about 4,000 officers on duty, a figure that pales to the approximately 38,000 the Untied Nations say the country needs to achieve median levels of policing.

As for gangs, a recent analysis piece by InSight Crime claimed that the protracted deployment the has given criminal organizations more time to prepare for what is anticipated to be a fierce response.

Haiti's gangs have continued to grow in power. Notably, the once-rival gang alliances G9 and G-Pèp have united against the security mission, forming a group called Vivre Ensemble (Living Together). The alliance has for months conducted coordinated attacks on state institutions, displacing civilians, seizing police stations, and consolidating control over strategic areas of Port-au-Prince.

Experts interviewed by InSight Crime remain skeptical about the effectiveness of the Kenyan-led mission. They argue that previous efforts to train the Haitian police by Western countries have yielded limited success.

At a social level, a recent report by the International Organization for Migration showed that nearly 580,000 people have been internally displaced across the country, a 60% increase since March.

The report added that practically all of the internally displaced are being hosted by communities "already struggling with overburdened social services and poor infrastructure, raising further concerns about tensions with the potential to spark future violence."

In the capital, Port-au-Prince, two thirds of those displaced live in "spontaneous sites with very limited access to basic services." "Schools and learning institutions currently make up 39 of the 96 active displacement sites and host 61,000 people, severely limiting school attendance. Sustainable, decent employment opportunities, equal access to basic services, and access to education for both IDPs and host communities are urgently needed," the release urges.

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