UN agency calls for an end to Dominican deportation of Haitians

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HAVANA (TBEN) – The UN’s main human rights organization on Thursday called on the Dominican Republic to halt the increasing deportations of Haitian migrants at a time of unrest in their country.

“Continued armed violence and systematic human rights violations in Haiti do not currently allow for a safe, dignified and sustainable return of Haitians to the country,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a statement.

He extended that call to other countries in the region. The United States also continues to crack down on Haitian migration, despite the Biden administration expressing concern about the humanitarian situation in Haiti.

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Gang wars and political unrest have led to an exodus from Haiti, with migrants seeking refuge across the region.

In the Dominican Republic — which shares a 390-kilometer border with Haiti on the island of Hispaniola — that has sparked migration and border crackdowns that the government says will “ensure border security.”

Dominican authorities say they deported 43,900 migrants, mostly Haitians, between July and October. Deportation rates also shot up by about 50% between September and October.

Advocacy groups say mass deportations of Haitians from the Dominican Republic have increased after the 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, which sent an already crisis-stricken nation into chaos.

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The number of deportations has skyrocketed in recent months as Haiti’s most powerful gang blocked fuel supplies, leading to widespread hardship. That block was only lifted this week.

Türk also urged the Caribbean nation to take measures to prevent xenophobia and discrimination against Haitians.

But William Charpantier Blanco, head of the National Committee for Migrants and Refugees in the capital Santo Domingo, said the Dominican government’s “persecution of migrants” has only heightened such sentiments.

While the activist said he understands Dominican security concerns, it is “something different to go after some migrants who are crossing the border in search of work and want to protect their own lives. They are honest people who come into the Dominican Republic to survive. “

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Türk’s call echoed a statement last week from a sister organization, the UN Office for Refugees, urging other countries to stop the deportation of Haitians.

“Attacks by armed gangs and the recent cholera outbreak have exacerbated the already dramatic humanitarian situation in Haiti, characterized by acute food insecurity, fuel shortages and limited health and sanitation,” the agency said. “Millions of children are out of school, malnourished and living in fear.”