UN agencies call for protection measures for Haitians migrating through the Americas

El Paso News

Haitians wait for the opening of the border between Jimani, Dominican Republic, and Malpasse, Haiti, on a market day, Thursday, June 18, 2015. As the Dominican Republic starts cracking down on migrants, the Dominican government is urging people to start carrying documents to prove they’re residents and avoid deportation in case immigration agents stop them. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

GENEVA, Switzerland (KTSM) – UN agencies call on states to refrain from expelling Haitian migrants without proper assessment of their individual protection needs and to offer protection mechanisms for more effective access to migration pathways.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the United Nations Human Rights Office are encouraging countries in the Americas to engage in a comprehensive regional approach to ensure the protection of Haitian men, women, and children moving through the region.

The UNHCR and its partners are providing basic assistance to Haitians at various points en route and in Haiti. However, more needs to be done to address their profound vulnerabilities, UN officials said.

According to the four UN agencies, the complex social, economic, humanitarian and political situation, and the various catastrophes affecting Haiti, some of which are linked to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, have led to different population movements from the Caribbean country in the past decade.

International law prohibits collective expulsions and requires that each case be examined individually to identify protection needs under international human rights and refugee law.

According to a release from the UNHCR, Haiti continues to face an escalation in violence and insecurity, with at least 19,000 people internally displaced in the capital Port-au-Prince in the summer of 2021 alone. Well over 20 percent of Haitian children have been victims of sexual violence. Approximately 4.4 million Haitians, or nearly 46 percent of the population, face acute food insecurity, including 1.2 million people who are in emergency levels and 3.2 million people at crisis levels. An estimated 217,000 Haitian children suffer from moderate-to-severe acute malnutrition.

This situation is bound to worsen as a result of the August earthquake straining any capacity to receive returning Haitians, UN officials said.

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