Haiti has been grappling with a persistent problem of gang violence. / Photo: AP

The UN Security Council has voted to send a multinational force to Haiti led by Kenya to help combat violent gangs in the troubled Caribbean country.

The resolution drafted by the US was approved with 13 votes in favour and two abstentions.

The resolution authorises the force to deploy for one year, with a review after nine months.

It would mark the first time a force is deployed to Haiti since a UN-approved mission nearly 20 years ago.

A deployment date has not been set, although US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said a security mission to Haiti could deploy “in months.”

January 1, 2024 date

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Alfred Mutua, told the BBC that the force should already be in Haiti by January 1, 2024, “if not before then.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how big the force would be. Kenya’s government has previously proposed sending 1,000 police officers. In addition, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda also have pledged to send personnel.

Last month, the administration of US President Joe Biden promised to provide logistics and $100 million to support the Kenyan-led force.

International intervention in Haiti has a complicated history. A United Nations-approved stabilisation mission to Haiti that started in June 2004 was marred by a sexual abuse scandal and the introduction of cholera. The mission ended in October 2017.

Brutal force

Critics of Monday's approved Kenyan-led mission also have noted that police in the East African country have long been accused of using torture, deadly force and other abuses.

Top Kenyan officials visited Haiti in August as part of a reconnaissance mission as the US worked on a draft of the resolution.

The vote comes nearly a year after Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 top government officials requested the immediate deployment of a foreign armed force as the government struggled to control gangs amid a surge in killings, rapes and kidnappings.

From January 1 until August 15, more than 2,400 people in Haiti were reported killed, more than 950 kidnapped and another 902 injured, according to the most recent UN statistics.