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Nearly 15,000 Haitians were deported from the Dominican Republic in October 2022, despite the appeal of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights asking for the cessation of these forcible returns given the security and humanitarian situation. in Haiti. According to the Support Group for Returnees and Refugees (GARR), a Haitian organization, all Haitians are targeted, regardless of their administrative status in the Dominican Republic.

“All the trucks are full. All of them. Three, four, full!”. In a video shared on social media on November 5, a man films from his vehicle a row of seven Dominican Republic Migration Service trucks, lined up on the side of a road. Several dozen people appear to have been crammed into each of these mesh-door trucks.

On social networks and in the local Dominican press, other images of these repatriations have circulated.

“You just have to have a face that suggests you are Haitian and they put you in cage-shaped cars”

The Support Group for Repatriated and Refugees (GARR), a Haitian organization, counted a total of 14,800 repatriated Haitians in October alone. Sam Guillaume is the communication and advocacy manager:

In recent days, as everyone can see through social networks, Haitians are experiencing a lamentable situation in the Dominican Republic: the country has decided to expel all Haitian migrants. Not only does the Dominican Republic repatriate them, but you have to see the treatment given to Haitians: they are beaten, mistreated, put in prisons.

At the GARR level, we provide assistance to migrants that the Dominican Republic has decided to repatriate. We are doing our best to bring a minimum of help to some of them, especially in the town of Belladère, near the border. We accommodate those who find it difficult to return home, to reconnect with their families. We also distribute clothes, because some of them sometimes come to us in nightwear. Some also have to go to the hospital.

“We even received a Dominican. He was black: he was taken for a Haitian”

There is no verification of the documents of Haitian migrants: some people are expelled even though they are not in an irregular situation. All you have to do is have a face that suggests you are Haitian and you get a hold of them to drive you around in the cage-like cars. In October, we even received a Dominican. He was black: he was taken for a Haitian, so he suffered the same treatment as Haitians. On November 17 alone, we also received 60 minors, unaccompanied by their parents.

UN statements “unacceptable and irresponsible” for the Dominican president

The UN has called Thursday November 10 the Dominican Republic to stop forcibly deporting Haitians.

“A week ago, I called for the deportations to Haiti to cease, given the humanitarian and human rights crises facing the country. I am disturbed that the forced returns of Haitians from the Dominican Republic to Haiti continue,” said said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, in a press release. According to him, “the incessant armed violence and the systematic violations of human rights in Haiti do not currently allow the safe, dignified and sustainable return of Haitians to the country”.

the Dominican President Luis Abinader responded to the UN the same day. He believes that “the migration policy of each country” is “the competence of each government”, which in his view makes the UN statements “unacceptable and irresponsible”. The Dominican president assured that the “repatriations” would continue, and that they would even be “reinforced”.

The Dominican Republic’s Director General of Migration, Venancio Alcántara Valdez, added that the Dominican Republic was a “sovereign” country with the “right to repatriate any foreigner who is illegally in the country”.

“The international community must not remain silent”

For Sam Guillaume, the international community must react:

President Luis Abinader brushed aside the UN’s request to stop repatriations. He says not only that the repatriations will continue, but also that they will multiply. The international community must not remain silent, the UN must continue to put pressure on the Dominican authorities so that the repatriations can effectively stop because in Haiti, the conditions are not met for a return.

On the side of Haiti, peace must return. Because if Haitians leave the country to go to the Dominican Republic, it is because there is a lot of insecurity due to the gangs that occupy the different corners of the country. There is also the high cost of living. Haitians therefore seek to live better elsewhere.

On November 10, Haitian government spokesman Homero Figueroa tweeted a toll on the deportations. According to its figures, between August and October 2022, 60,204 people of Haitian nationality were “repatriated” to their country. The total for the whole of 2022 stands at 108,436 people.

February 20, building a wall along the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti was launched to “control” illegal immigration and trafficking, according to the Dominican president.

>> SEE ALSO ON FRANCE 24: Haiti-Dominican Republic: a fractured island

In Haiti, more than 150 gangs impose their law against a powerless state. Our editorial team investigated the violence of these armed groups in Port-au-Prince, the capital. Our investigation, “Haiti: in the hell of the gangs”, can be found below.

"Haiti: in the hell of the gangs"an investigation by the editorial staff of the France 24 Observers.
“Haiti: in the hell of the gangs”, an investigation by the editorial staff of the Observers of France 24. © Observers

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