Haiti’s former President Jovenel Moise.
Associated Press / Dieu Nalio Chery

The Bahamas’ contingent of about 150 soldiers preparing for deployment to strife-torn Haiti, is headed to neighboring Jamaica for joint training with local soldiers, contingents from other Caribbean Community nations and those from South American officials have said.

Bahamian Defense Chief Commodore, Raymond King told reporters this week that the Bahamians will leave for Jamaica in the next one or two weeks for intensive training for participation in a multinational peacekeeping mission headed to the CARICOM nation. An advanced team of officers is also headed to Jamaica to prepare for the training exercise that will also involve soldiers and security forces from Chile and Argentina among others.

Guyana, Trinidad as well as several other regional bloc nations have already pledged to take part in the multinational force as well that will work to minimize the dominance of heavily armed gangs, which have been paralyzing the country in the past three years. The United Nations says that thousands of people have been killed, buildings burned to the ground, dozens of women have been assaulted and businesses have been extorted for money by the gangs. The situation has escalated in the aftermath of the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise by hired mercenaries, leaving the country without any elected parliamentary officials, that of mayors for towns and delayed elections among other problems.

“Kenya and Republic of Haiti, I think they are in the process of signing off on an agreement which will enable the Kenyans to deploy their police officers. Kenya is preparing to send its initial team of some 200 people into Haiti as a part of the advance team. We leave within the next one or two weeks. It’s an integrated training for some three weeks to ensure that the forces can operate, they have the same doctrine, the same orders, the same rules. You want to ensure that all of the different forces are able to operate in a seamless and cohesive way,” Commodore King said.

The deployment of troops and police officers from around the world to Haiti has been delayed by a recent court ruling which had barred Kenya and Kenyan troops from leading the forces as a judge had ruled it as illegal. To circumvent the ruling, Kenya and Haiti are working on a bilateral agreement that includes a formal assistance request from Haiti to make the deployment legal.

Jamaica, The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands are anxious for peace and calm to return to Haiti as they often bear the brunt of Haitian boat people and economic migrants fleeing the chaos back home. Commodore King says the preparations for Haiti are well advanced.

“We’ll bring in our partners from South America, the Argentinians and Chileans, who would provide train the trainer training for a certain number of our instructors so we can continue to build internal capacity. The government has indicated its inclination towards the maritime security posture, which is what we naturally do,” King said.

Haiti is expected to be a key agenda item at next week’s Caricom leaders summit in Guyana.