Most Haitians deported were from storm-impacted areas, IOM official says

Most of the Haitians recently deported by the government were from areas affected by Hurricane Dorian, according to an official from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“We confirm that many returnees are coming from Abaco and Dorian-affected areas,” Giuseppe Loprete, the chief of IOM’s mission in Haiti, told The Nassau Guardian.

“We have interviewed – although briefly due to short time available at the airport – 153 people out of the 228 repatriated migrants and the majority stated that they were in Abaco.” 

He continued, “We were not present when the first charter arrived. We interviewed them after with the support of the Haitian authorities. We were present for the second charter and this was confirmed.

“We are working with local authorities and other partners to carry out a more systematic registration on arrival, in preparation of the next arrivals.”

Loprete said there were “vulnerabilities” among many of the deportees.

He said there were elderly people, a pregnant woman and people with chronic illnesses among those repatriated.

“The persons repatriated indicated being mainly from the northern part of Haiti and indicated their intention to return to their area of origin,” Loprete said.

He added, “The returnees did not have any documentation upon their return to Haiti.”

The government has deported more than 200 Haitians since October 19, according to Loprete. 

Last week, he expressed concern with the deportations in the wake of Dorian – the strongest storm on record to hit The Bahamas.

“They will experience the same difficulties everyone is having in Haiti,” Loprete said on Wednesday.

“In addition, they are certainly traumatized. They had a job and they had their living in The Bahamas but they lost everything suddenly. There is a risk of stigma for those who failed; starting over will not be easy.”

The government faced criticisms after announcing its intention to enforce immigration laws and deport undocumented migrants, even those impacted by Dorian in early September.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the government announced that repatriation of storm victims, who are undocumented migrants, was on hold. But not long after, said repatriations resumed.

Several human rights groups accused the government of targeting Haitians with its policies and sending them to a country with civil unrest.

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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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