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Haitian minister says climate change among factors causing irregular migration

Haitian Minister of the Environment James Cadet said the impact of climate change is a “major factor” contributing to irregular Haitian migration and crime in Haiti.

He said that some Haitians have no livelihoods and homes as a result of hurricanes.

“These people leave their homes, leave their towns and their counties and their cities,” Cadet told The Nassau Guardian

“They move. They go into urban zones. They put their lives at risk to go outside of the country on illegal voyages through the seas. All of that goes to say, it’s a series of actions that have been occurring over time.

“The damage continues over time and we’re also exposed to a greater level of criminality that comes as a result that. All of these are losses and damages.”

When asked if he was suggesting that the effects of climate change is pushing more Haitians to risk their lives at sea, Cadet replied, “That’s a major factor, yes.”

The Bahamas, like other countries in the region, is experiencing high levels of illegal migration from Haiti, where gang violence rages on.

Earlier this month, Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Dr. Raymond King said the number of migrants – mostly Haitian – apprehended in Bahamian waters so far this year exceeds the total number apprehended in the last three years combined.

Such migratory trends are likely the result of the long- lasting effects of natural disasters, which leave many in dire situations, according to Cadet.

He said some impacted individuals are forced to “make makeshift houses” while others exploit “abusively” Haiti’s natural resources.

“They don’t have the means to live after,” Cadet said.

“They have no means of subsistence. Some of them, unfortunately, become involved in illegality and we are currently living through that situation in Haiti.”

Cadet made the comments on the sidelines of the Caribbean Regional Heads of Government Meeting in preparation for COP27 in Egypt, which was held at Baha Mar this week.

He was among the senior regional leaders who gathered to discuss the impact of climate change on their countries and determine the Caribbean’s position at COP27 later this year.

Cadet said the meeting was an important one.

“… We have this opportunity to present this Caribbean reality in a more clear way,” he said.

Cadet said all Caribbean countries are confronting extreme weather events, including major hurricanes and flooding.

He said Haiti has had its “share of bad moments” and so has Barbados.

“Countries in the Caribbean have suffered the effects of climate change,” Cadet said.

“We must come to know a level of discipline among ourselves, a common vision, a common approach. We must develop instruments at a regional level.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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