Haiti police to benefit from new program to help fight gangs – National

Prime Minister Ariel Henry met for the first time Tuesday with officials from various countries who are part of an international steering committee aimed at strengthening the country’s beleaguered police force ahead of the potential deployment of a foreign armed force to help fight gangs, according to the government of Haiti.

The committee overseeing the program includes officials from the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Nations and the European Union, according to the Haitian prime minister’s office.

The office did not provide further details, except to say that the program aims to operationally and institutionally strengthen the Haitian National Police.

A government official who was not authorized to speak to the media told The Associated Press that the program aims to generate more money for an existing pooled fund created to help the Haitian National Police. The official said he did not know how much additional money, if any, each country had pledged or what that money would specifically be used for.

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Click to play video: “Desperate search underway in Haiti for kidnapped American nurse and her child”

Desperate search underway in Haiti for kidnapped American nurse and her child

The meeting comes just days after a Kenyan court ruled that the deployment of police officers to Haiti as part of a UN-backed mission approved last year was unconstitutional.

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Haitian police have long been overwhelmed by violent gangs that control up to 80% of the capital Port-au-Prince, with only some 10,000 officers on duty at a time in a country of more than 11 million people.

Last year, gangs attacked more than 45 police stations across Haiti, forcing police to abandon some of them. Dozens of officers were also killed, according to the UN.

While the police budget for the current financial year has increased by 13%, a recent UN report found that “appropriations fall short of needs” and noted that donor funding has helped provide basic items such as vehicles and personal protective equipment.

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Associated Press reporter Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed.

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