Hundreds of Kenyan police officers have been training since late last year to embark on the deployment of a lifetime: helping lead a multinational force tasked with quelling gang-fueled lawlessness in Haiti.

The deployment has divided the East African nation from the onset. It touched off fierce debate in parliament and among officials in at least two ministries about whether Kenya should lead such a mission.

The courts also sought to block the deployment, while activists and human rights groups, citing a history of abuse and unlawful killings by the Kenyan police, roundly denounced it.

But the plan received unwavering support from its main champion, President William Ruto of Kenya, who said responding to the worsening crisis on the Caribbean nation was a call to “serve humanity.”

Now, months after finishing their training, Kenyan officers were called back from leave this week in preparation for leaving for Haiti, according to interviews with several police officers who are part of the planned deployment. The officers said they have not been given a precise date but anticipated that they would arrive in Haiti this month.

Their expected departure comes as the United States, which is largely financing the plan, steps up efforts on the ground in preparation for the arrival of the multinational force in Haiti, including building a base of operations at the country’s main airport.

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