A NEW humanitarian crisis is looming for Haiti if the threatened
mass deportation of people of Haitian descent from the Dominican
Republic is carried out, agencies have warned.
A deadline for all non-citizens in the Dominican Republic to
apply for residency, or face expulsion, expired last week. The
deadline applied to foreign-born migrant workers and residents born
in the Dominican Republic who have no documentation since being
stripped of their Dominican citizenships by a 2013 court
About 200,000 people, many of them of Haitian descent, are
thought to have been rendered stateless by the decision.
So far, deportations have not begun, but many people of Haitian
descent are reported to have begun leaving voluntarily, though most
no longer have any family or contacts in Haiti.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has appealed to
the government of the Dominican Republic not to begin deportations,
saying that the consequences could be "devastating".
A UNHCR spokesman said that there was concern about the
human-rights considerations for people who may be expelled, and
that people could end up being pushed into Haiti, even though they
are not considered citizens of that country.
Christian Aid said that its sources say that between January and
April this year, up to 1000 people were forcibly removed to
Christian Aid's country manager for Haiti and the Dominican
Republic, Prospery Raymond, said: "Dominicans of Haitian descent
are Dominican: they feel, act, and dream as Dominicans.
"Most don't view themselves as having any personal connection
with Haitians, except for sharing an ethnic origin. They do not
possess Haitian documentation, nor are they entitled to it. And
yet, they're facing the very real danger of being forcibly removed
to a completely alien country.
"If major deportations begin, this could trigger a new
humanitarian crisis on the island. It is therefore important that
everyone at risk has their cases individually examined, and is
given the right to appeal, respecting due process.
"We are greatly concerned about the psychosocial impact on
families who may be separated, the lack of support services
available to deportees, and the conduct of the deportations, which
continue to fall well short of bi-national protocols and
"Mass deportations will put additional strain on water supply,
and could lead to an increase of cholera and other sanitation
issues, particularly for children or the elderly. To avoid a crisis
along the border, both governments must demonstrate they have
appropriate public-health plans in place, so that deportees are not
affected by the already challenging drought in that region."
The Deputy Interior Minister of the Dominican Republic,
Washington Gonzalez, said that the government is reviewing nearly
290,000 applications for legal residency after last week's
The government has also announced a free bus service to take
migrants to the Haitian border, which will run for the next ten