SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Human Rights Watch released a report Thursday calling on the US and other countries to stop deporting Haitians to their homeland, calling it “unconscionable” and warning that They are putting people’s lives in danger.
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 25,700 people have been deported to Haiti from January 2021 to February 2022, 79 percent of whom have been expelled by the US alone.
“Haitians and their children, many born overseas, are being returned to a country in chaos,” said Cesar Munoz, senior US researcher at Human Rights Watch, a non-profit organization based in New York.
Haiti’s turmoil deepens over the past year with inflation, kidnappings and violence as the country tries to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovanel Mosse and the mid-August 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed 2,200 More people were killed and destroyed. Damaged thousands of homes. Jobs have also become scarce in a country of more than 11 million people, where 60% of the population earns less than $2 a day.
Furthermore, gangs have become more powerful amid the ongoing political instability, with kidnappings increasing by 180% and murders by 17% in the past year, according to a UN Security Council report. An estimated 19,000 people have lost their homes to the mass violence, and many are still living in temporary shelters in extremely unhygienic conditions.
“Port-au-Prince is hell now,” said Cassandra Petit, a 39-year-old mother of two whose partner was killed last year when she went back home, running to retrieve clothes and school backpacks. Rahi had fled in the midst of gang violence. for their children. “He never returned.”
She is now living with a cousin of her former partner and tries to make some money selling used clothes, but “it’s not every day that you make sales.”
“When I come back, I don’t know what the kids will eat in the evening,” she said. “I start crying before I get home.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recently reported that about 4.5 million people in Haiti are in need of immediate assistance, given the acute shortage of food.
Munoz said that no one should send people to Haiti given those conditions.
“It is unconscionable that any government would send people to Haiti, while it experiences such a decline in security and a high risk to the life and physical integrity of everyone,” he said.
He also denounced a public health law known as Title 42 created under former US President Donald Trump that US President Joe Biden’s administration used to quickly expel Haitians and fly them to their homeland. , barred them from seeking asylum in America. Haitian immigrants detained in recent months at the US-Mexico border in Texas have been deported under that law.
Munoz also noted that there is no system in Haiti to track down or help deportees, and that members of civil society have told Human Rights Watch that deportees are at risk of abduction because gangs think that They have money for foreign travel or relatives who can pay the ransom.
The arrival of thousands of deportees puts even more pressure on resources that were already severely limited in Haiti. Many left the country years ago as they fled an economic crisis that worsened after a 2010 magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people. Many of them lived in countries including Chile and Brazil before trying to reach the US as the pandemic wiped out jobs.
Among those trying to escape Haiti’s deteriorating situation is Jertha Marie-Paul, 61, who lived for nearly half a century in the Port-au-Prince community of Martisante – ground zero for warring gangs – before uncontrollable violence divided her family. and forced him to move. She now lives at a friend’s house where she sleeps in a corner on a foam mattress.
“I’m living in conditions that I’ve never lived in before in my life,” she said, adding that she also has to buy buckets of water for 10 gourds (nine US cents) because the utilities don’t work. “Nothing is easy here.”
Sanon reported from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.