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Refugees in HaitiSeptember 6, 2018 — The Jesuit Refugee Service took part in the latest assembly of the Jesuit Network for Migrants (JNM), the Caribbean region, in Port-au-Prince August 21 – 22, looking at the issue of migration flows in the Caribbean.

One of the important emerging migration flows is that of Venezuelans who leave their country to go elsewhere in the Americas and to Europe because of the economic and political crisis at home. Many are victims of discrimination, as in the Dominican Republic where the authorities require them to return to their own country if they wish to regularize their status. It is complex and it could endanger their lives, and it goes against the principle of non-expulsion.

But the most important migration flow involves the Haitians, who are fleeing a deplorable economic situation and an unstable and corrupt political situation. We can add to them the Dominicans of Haitian descent who are not recognized as Dominican citizens and who face discrimination on a daily basis. In spite of the misleading statements from the Dominican authorities who say they want to regularize their status, only a small number of them have been able to their temporary residence permit. The rest always are at risk of being expelled, which is an alarming situation. They have no ties, no family in Haiti, and are not Haitian citizens. They don’t speak either French or Creole, and Haiti is not in a position to receive them or integrate them.

It seems inconceivable to me that anyone would want to treat someone as stateless, given that he, his parents, and often his grandparents were born under the Dominican sun. When fear and hatred towards those who are different are stirred up, you see the manifestation of aberrant behaviours. We see these behaviours everywhere, even in Canada. As engaged Christians, it is our responsibility to denounce them and to fight for humane treatment of migrants and refugees, no matter where they are.

In the face of these worrying situations in the region, the delegations of the annual assembly of RJM, the Caribbean region, spoke with one voice to call on the different governments of the region to give full attention to the situation of migrants and refugees living on the American continent.

Norbert Piché

Director of JRS Canada


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