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Human Rights Watch condemns the “chaos” of deportations to Haiti

Human Rights Watch published a report on Thursday demanding that the United States and other countries stop deporting Haitians to their country of origin, something it described as “unconscionable,” and warned that they are putting people’s lives in danger.

More than 25,700 people have been deported to Haiti between January 2021 and February 2022. 79% were removed from the United States, according to the International Organization for Migration.

“Haitians and their children, many born abroad, are returning to a country in chaos,” said César Muñoz, Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, a New York-based nonprofit.

Instability in Haiti has worsened considerably in the past year with a combination of inflation, kidnappings and a rise in violence, as the country tries to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 in mid-August, which killed more than 2,200 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. Jobs have become even scarcer in a country of 11 million people, where 60% of the population earn less than two dollars a day.

In addition, gangs have gained power in the face of political instability and kidnapping reports have risen 180%, while homicides have increased 17% in the last year, according to a report by the United Nations Security Council. An estimated 19,000 people have lost their homes due to gang violence and many continue to live in temporary shelters in grossly unhygienic conditions.

“Now Port-au-Prince is hell,” said Cassandra Petit, a 39-year-old mother of two. Her partner was killed last year when she was returning to the house they had fled due to gang violence to retrieve her children’s clothes and school bags. She “she never came back.”

Now she moves away with her ex-partner’s cousin and tries to earn some money selling second-hand clothes, but “it’s not every day you make a sale”.

“When I come back, I don’t know what the kids will have for dinner,” he said. “I start crying before I get home.”

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently reported that some 4.5 million people across Haiti require urgent assistance due to severe food shortages.

Muñoz said no one should deport people to Haiti under those circumstances.

“It is inconceivable that any government would send people to Haiti while experiencing such a deterioration in security and an aggravated risk to the security and physical integrity of the entire world,” he said.

He also condemned a US public health law known as Title 42, applied during the term of former President Donald Trump and which the Joe Biden administration has used to quickly expel Haitian citizens and send them back to their country, preventing them from seeking asylum in the United States. Joined. Most of the Haitian migrants detained in recent months at the US-Mexico border in Texas have been deported under that law.

Muñoz added that there is no active system in Haiti to track or help deportees, and that members of civil society have told Human Rights Watch that deportees are at risk of being kidnapped because gangs believe they have money to travel. or relatives abroad who can pay ransoms.

The arrival of thousands of deportees increases the pressure on already limited resources in Haiti. Many left the country years ago, fleeing an economic crisis worsened by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010 that killed an estimated 300,000 people. Many lived in countries like Chile and Brazil before trying to make it to the United States when the pandemic wiped out their jobs.

One of those trying to survive Haiti’s precarious situation was Jertha Marie-Paul, 61, who lived in the Port-au-Prince community of Martissant for almost half a century – now the scene of gang warfare – before violence uncontrolled divided her family and forced her to move. She now stays at a friend’s house, where she sleeps in a corner on a thin foam mattress.

“I live in conditions I have never lived in before,” he said, adding that he even has to buy buckets of water for 10 gurdes (nine cents) because the pipes don’t work. “Nothing is easy here.”

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