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Haiti’s airport reopens as international security mission prepares to arrive

Haiti reopened its main international airport in the capital Port-au-Prince on 20 May in preparation for the arrival of a multinational security support force tasked with helping to tackle widespread, gang-related violence and insecurity. The airport had been closed for nearly three months due to gang violence.

The first contingent of 200 police officers from Kenya, who are leading the multinational mission, is expected to arrive in Haiti by the end of this week. An advance group of 10 police officers left from Kenya on 19 May for Miami in the US, where they will prepare the ground for the arrival of the larger team.

Once it deploys to Haiti, the multinational police mission will operate out of a US-established barracks in the country.

Kenya intends to send at least 1,000 police officers to Haiti. Jamaica, Chad, Bangladesh, Benin, and Barbados will also contribute officers to the mission. Reports indicate that half of the contingent will work to secure critical facilities and infrastructure, including the airport, while the rest will be tasked with combating the gangs that now control over 90% of Haiti’s capital.

According to the UN, 2,500 people have been killed or injured in just the first three months of this year in gang-related violence. Some victims have been left to rot in the streets as violence has prevented families from collecting the bodies for burial.

The reopening of the airport is also intended to pave the way for the delivery of much needed humanitarian aid to Haiti. Gangs have seized control of strategic roads and ports, hindering the arrival of crucial supplies, such as medicines and food.

For background on the violence in Haiti and the UN-approved security support mission, read: 

This is a medium shot of a demonstrator wearing a black shirt, jeans and sun glasses holds up a Haitian flag during a protest against Prime Minister Ariel Henry's government and insecurity. Behind him is a fire and smoke.

Haiti in-depth: A transition beset by challenges and uncertainty

Many Haitians have had enough of the rampant insecurity but are still wary of outside intervention, especially involving the United States.

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