"Haitian Migrants Face Fear and Chaos as They're Forced Back Across the Border"


 At the Dajabón border crossing between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, a steady procession of trucks arrives, carrying Haitian migrants without proper documentation who are being repatriated to their homeland.

These deportations unfold against the backdrop of Haiti's most severe humanitarian crisis since the catastrophic earthquake of 2010, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

One such migrant, Michael Petiton, a construction worker, recounts his abrupt expulsion from the Dominican Republic after three years of labor. "They came into my home and forcibly removed me," he exclaims, now finding himself back in Haiti with only essentials and a few salvaged tools.


Haiti's already fragile state has rapidly deteriorated in recent weeks due to escalating gang activities targeting crucial infrastructure in a bid to oust the country's prime minister. Over 350,000 people, including more than 15,000 in the past fortnight, have been displaced internally.

Despite this turmoil, Dominican authorities continue to repatriate hundreds of undocumented Haitians daily, forcibly ushering them across the Massacre River into Haiti. Some migrants express anger, while others exhibit resignation, clutching onto loved ones or meager possessions.

The Dominican Republic's stance seems clear: Haitians, regardless of the dire conditions at home, are unwelcome on its soil.

Last month, President Luis Abinader urged the international community to ramp up assistance to Haiti and advocated for a multinational force deployment. However, he cautioned that failing international aid, the Dominican Republic would safeguard its interests independently.

In response to inquiries about sheltering Haitian refugees amidst unrest, President Abinader categorically rejected the notion of establishing refugee camps within Dominican territory.

For those repatriated to Haiti, the outlook is uncertain and precarious. The capital, Port-au-Prince, grapples with a humanitarian catastrophe exacerbated by widespread gang violence, which has led to hospital closures and severe shortages of essential supplies.

Philippe Serge Degernier, the UNFPA representative in Haiti, describes the dire situation facing Port-au-Prince's three million residents, particularly women and girls. The rampant gang violence has disrupted access to healthcare, leaving thousands without essential services, including maternity care.

While the recent resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry offers a glimmer of hope for some respite, Haiti's crisis runs deep, with no clear successor in sight. Amidst a power vacuum, discussions about an interim administration are fraught with division and uncertainty.

The absence of a cohesive leadership plan leaves Haiti vulnerable to further instability. Various factions vie for control, including notorious figures with criminal backgrounds like Jimmy "Barbecue" Chérizier, who is critical of transitional arrangements.

Amidst the turmoil, the insidious use of rape and sexual violence by gangs as weapons of war remains a largely overlooked aspect of the crisis. Victims, often too fearful to seek medical attention, endure unspeakable atrocities with little recourse for justice or support.

For deported Haitian immigrants, their return to a homeland plagued by violence and uncertainty paints a bleak future. The looming specter of danger and instability casts a dark shadow over their prospects.

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