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UN considers intervention in Haiti as gangs continue to grow in power

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The U.N. Security Council may soon approve an international intervention for Haiti as gangs solidify their control over the country. Kenya recently offered to lead an international force, and U.S. diplomats have been spending time at the U.N. this week encouraging others to pitch in. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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PRESIDENT WILLIAM RUTO: Tony.

ANTONY BLINKEN: Mr. President, so good to see you.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Secretary of State Antony Blinken sits down with Kenya's president, William Ruto, to talk about Kenya's plans in Haiti.

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RUTO: How the nitty-gritty so that we can be able to make a useful contribution.

KELEMEN: Kenya has offered about a thousand troops to help Haiti's National Police combat gangs and provide security of key installations and roads. In his speech to the General Assembly this week, Ruto said much is at stake...

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RUTO: Haiti is the ultimate test of international solidarity and collective action. The international community has failed this test so far.

KELEMEN: ...And the Kenyan leader says Haiti deserves better.

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RUTO: The cry of our brothers and sisters who were the first people to win their struggle for freedom from colonial tyranny has reached our ears and touched our hearts.

KELEMEN: There are still a few steps to go before an international force can deploy to Haiti. The U.S. is drafting a Security Council resolution to endorse the mission and hoping for a vote next week. Secretary Blinken says most countries want that to be able to send troops. For its part, the U.S. is pitching in $100 million, as well as logistical and intelligence support and medevac capabilities.

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BLINKEN: With our support, this mission can deploy within months, and we really have no time to lose.

KELEMEN: Blinken met with Haiti's de facto leader, who's here for the U.N. General Assembly as gangs back in the country led protests against Ariel Henry.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

KELEMEN: The gangs control much of the capital, Port-au-Prince. But those chaotic scenes felt far from the ballroom in New York, where Secretary Blinken chaired a meeting with officials from more than 30 countries. The assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, Brian Nichols, says most of them want to contribute in some way.

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BRIAN NICHOLS: There were offers of support from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and people were coming up to us today and yesterday, saying, hey, we're in. We're going to support. We are going to provide troops. We're going to provide police. We're going to provide money.

KELEMEN: But Nichols says the Kenyans haven't come up with a full list of what they need, nor do they have clear rules of engagement yet for this, the latest foreign intervention in Haiti.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.