Kenya and the United States have inked a defense agreement aimed at bolstering Kenya’s capacity for security deployments, particularly in its role as the leader of a multi-national peacekeeping mission to Haiti, aimed at combating gang violence.
The agreement, signed by Kenya’s Defense Minister Aden Duale and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during a meeting in Nairobi, outlines the defense relations between the two countries for the next five years. Kenya is taking on this leadership role as part of a broader effort to address the escalating gang violence in Haiti.
Secretary Austin expressed gratitude to Kenya for its commitment to lead the multinational force in Haiti and assured that the U.S. government would work with Congress to secure the $100 million in funding previously pledged during the U.N. General Assembly.
Furthermore, Austin called on other nations to emulate Kenya’s dedication to global security and contribute additional resources, personnel, equipment, support, training, and funding.
Kenya’s pledge to send 1,000 security officers to Haiti for this mission, which awaits formal approval from the U.N. Security Council, has received backing from both the U.N. and the U.S.
Despite this support, human rights activists have expressed concerns about potential human rights abuses during the mission, citing past security operations in Kenya. Additionally, some security analysts worry about a language barrier, as Kenya primarily speaks English and Swahili, while Haiti uses French and Creole as its official languages.
Regarding the fight against the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab extremist group in East Africa, Secretary Austin noted that significant progress had been made in Somalia over the past year. However, he cautioned that progress in such endeavors can be uneven, with improvements one day and challenges the next.
Somalia recently requested a three-month pause in the U.N.’s troop withdrawal, allowing its forces time to regroup as it prepares to assume full security responsibilities by the end of 2024.