Amnesty International today urged authorities in the Dominican Republic to immediately halt the mass deportation of Haitian migrants amid claims by the authorities that the move is necessary to prevent the spread of cholera.
Over 950 Haitians – many of them living in the Dominican Republic without documentation – have been deported to Haiti in the past week, according to statements by the local Migration Ministry.
“Haiti is still recovering from a devastating natural disaster. Instead of forcing people back to a desperate situation, the Dominican Republic and other countries should be stepping up their efforts to help Haiti and its people,” said Javier Zuñiga, Senior Advisor at Amnesty International.
The immigration status of many Haitians in the Dominican Republic is still unclear.
“No one should be deported without individual determination of their immigration status, and any Haitian suspected of cholera should be given adequate medical treatment not be deported,” said Javier Zuñiga.
“Returning people is condemning them to a situation where their health and security would be at great risk.”
After an earthquake struck the impoverished country last January, the Dominican Republic agreed to admit hundreds of Haitian nationals on humanitarian grounds.
But authorities now claim that deportations are crucial to prevent the spread of cholera. A recent outbreak of the disease has already killed 3,500 people in Haiti. Around 150 cases have been reported in the Dominican Republic.
According to the United Nations, around 600,000 Haitians lived in the Dominican Republic without documents before the earthquake.
Amnesty International yesterday raised concerns regarding the situation of women and girls living in makeshift camps across Haiti and warned of the widespread sexual abuse they suffer.