Puerto rico government

Human rights group denounces deportation to ‘chaos’ in Haiti

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Human Rights Watch released a report Thursday demanding that the United States and other countries stop deporting Haitians to their homeland, calling it “unacceptable” and warning that they put people’s lives at risk.

More than 25,700 people were deported to Haiti from January 2021 to February 2022, 79% of them deported by the United States alone, according to the International Organization for Migration.

“Haitians and their children, many of whom were born abroad, are being sent back to a country plagued by chaos,” said César Muñoz, senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit based in Haiti. New York.

Haiti’s unrest has worsened dramatically over the past year with inflation, kidnappings and violence as the country tries to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck in mid-August, killing more than 2,200 people and destroying or damaging tens of thousands of homes. Jobs have also become even scarcer in a country of more than 11 million people where 60% of the population earn less than $2 a day.

In addition, gangs have grown more powerful amid continued political instability, with reported kidnappings up 180% and homicides up 17% in the past year, according to a United Nations Security Council report. United. An estimated 19,000 people have lost their homes to gang violence, with many still living in temporary shelters in extremely unsanitary conditions.

“Port-au-Prince is now hell, said Cassandra Petit, a 39-year-old mother of two whose partner was killed last year when he returned to the house they had fled in the middle of. gang violence to collect clothes and school backpacks. for their children. “He never came back”

She now lives with her ex-husband’s cousin and tries to make 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 children are going to eat in the evening,” she says. “I start crying before I get home.”

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recently reported that some 4.5 million people across Haiti are in need of emergency assistance due to a severe lack of food.

Muñoz said no one should deport people to Haiti given these conditions.

“It is unacceptable for a government to send people to Haiti when it is experiencing such a deterioration in security and an increased risk to everyone’s life and physical integrity,” 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 deport Haitians and fly them to their country. of origin, preventing them from trying to seek asylum in the United States. Haitian migrants detained in recent months along the US-Mexico border in Texas have been deported under this law.

Muñoz also noted that there is no system in place in Haiti to track or assist deportees, and that members of civil society told Human Rights Watch that deportees are at risk of kidnapping because the gangs think they have money to travel or relatives abroad who can pay ransoms.

The arrival of thousands of deportees weighs even more heavily on already very limited resources in Haiti. Many had left the country years ago as they fled an economic crisis that worsened following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck in 2010, killing an estimated 300,000 people. Many of them lived in countries like Chile and Brazil before trying to reach the United States as the pandemic dried up jobs.

Among those trying to survive the deteriorating situation in Haiti is Jertha Marie-Paul, 61, who has lived for nearly half a century in the Port-au-Prince community of Martissant – period zero for the warring gangs – before unchecked violence divided her family and forced her to move. She now lives with a friend where she sleeps in a corner on a flimsy foam mattress.

“I live in conditions that I have never experienced before,” she said, adding that she even had to buy buckets of water for 10 gourdes (nine cents US) each because the utilities did not. weren’t working. “Nothing is easy here.”

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Sanon reported from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.