U.S. President Joe Biden called on the United Nations Security Council to swiftly authorize the deployment of a multinational force to help Haiti fight off criminal gangs terrorizing residents.
NEW YORK— In what may be a pivotal statement during the 78th United Nations General Assembly gathering, U.S. President Joe Biden Tuesday called on the UN Security Council to swiftly authorize the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti. Biden’s appeal comes after yet another surge in violence due to relentless gang attacks on residents since August, leading to mass displacement and new fears for Haiti’s security.
Biden addressed Haiti, starting with gratitude to Kenya President William Ruto, whose government has offered to lead a multinational force in Haiti.
“I thank him for his willingness to serve as the lead nation of a U.N.-backed security support mission,” Biden said, according to a transcript of his remarks released by The White House. “I call on the Security Council to authorize this mission now. The people of Haiti cannot wait much longer.”
The president’s call for action is the strongest indication yet that the U.S. will contribute troops after speculation began circling that the superpower wanted to avoid getting mired in Haiti. The remarks follow months of discussions, which began after Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry in October 2022 requested a multinational armed force to aid the Haitian National Police (PNH) combat criminal gangs. Conditions in Haiti, particularly in the capital Port-au-Prince, have grown increasingly dire, with citizens living in constant fear due to widespread violence that left at least 2,400 dead since January.
During his address to the United Nations, Biden stressed the importance of preserving peace, preventing conflict and alleviating human suffering. He acknowledged the ongoing efforts of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in facilitating a dialogue among Haitian society, aiming to find a peaceful resolution to the nation’s ongoing crisis.
Reactions to Biden call for Haiti
“We embrace nations stepping up to lead in new ways and to seek new breakthroughs on hard issues,” he said.
Ordinary Haitians, elected officials, political analysts and observers immediately offered their views, online and in person, following Biden’s call to send the multinational force to Haiti.
“President Biden is absolutely right, and his comment is in alignment with the preferences of the people of Haiti,” Florida’s 20th district Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick said. “Every day we do not act is another day in which Haitians have to live in terror, fearing for their own safety and well-being. Lives are at stake.
“I have consistently advocated for a multinational security mission for over a year, as this remains the most immediate solution to restore order and address chaos on the ground,” Cherfilus-McCormick added.
Meanwhile, some other Haitians strongly oppose Biden’s comment.
“I don’t agree with the idea of a president re-invading Haiti again,” Denis Serge commented on X, formerly Twitter. “It’s been 29 years since Clinton’s invasion on Sept. 19, 1994, we’ve been the victims on many occasions. Lift up the gun embargo on the country. Arme the police with war weapons, ONU has to get rid of the irresponsible people it nominated, that will make us breathe.
Kenya force deployment updates
For months, the Security Council has been reviewing a draft resolution to support the deployment of troops to Haiti with Kenya expected leading the multinational force. Since then, some progress was made towards assessing the situation on the ground. In August, Kenya led a three-day assessment mission to Haiti, coinciding with a surge in gang-related attacks that forced thousands to flee their homes.
Also in August, the U.N. Secretary-General presented a proposal to the Security Council outlining potential security, civic, and humanitarian measures the U.N. could offer to Haiti and how these initiatives would be funded. However, concerns were raised about the lack of details and clear direction in the proposal, particularly regarding the strength and purpose of the mission.
Questions have also risen about Haiti’s sovereignty and the rationale behind an African nation leading the intervention.
In September, a third attempt by Caricom to continue discussions among Haitian political actors failed to solve the political stalemate. However, both parties — the opposition and the government— steadfastly maintain their positions and are unwilling to make any concessions.