A Caribbean Community leaders summit that ended in Barbados on the weekend warned of an impending humanitarian crisis in the region if the Dominican Republic continues its heartless deportation of people of Haitian descent, including those born in the island nation neighboring Haiti.
The issue, along with Venezuela’s publication of a new map claiming offshore waters, including those close to many of the bloc’s member nations, dominated proceedings at the three-day meeting that ended late Saturday in the 166-square mile island nation of about 300,000 people.
The communique issued after the meeting clearly indicated the level of distress and seriousness that leaders attached to the issue, calling on the Dominican Republic to let good sense prevail in handling such a delicate issue.
Back in 2013, the island’s constitutional court had handed down a shock decision, ruling that people of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents but lacking official documentation to prove nativity should be stripped of their citizenship and expelled from the country of approximately 9 million.
The move immediately rendered at least 200,000 people stateless, sparking widespread condemnation, but the level of disgust with authorities there has risen to new heights because of current moves to force citizens to leave the country.
Many of those facing forced removal from the country have indicated that the Dominican Republic is the only place they have ever known and fear difficulty in migrating to Haiti because of very weak familial and other ties to Haiti.
More than 100 years ago, thousands of Haitians had crossed the border into the Dominican Republic to work on farms and sugar plantations, so the group that now faces deportation include the descendants of these people and their offspring, who were actually born in cities of the Dominican Republic. Caricom describes the move as abhorrent.
“Heads of government condemned what they perceive as the makings of a grave humanitarian crisis in the region and welcomed the statement of the United Nations secretary-general at the opening ceremony, underlining the importance of respect for human rights and for the human dignity of the persons caught up in this deteriorating situation,” the 15-nation grouping said in its statement.
The regional leaders who have already indicated to the Dominican Republic that they will blank its application for full membership in the grouping said they were disappointed that Dominican authorities have backpedaled on an undertaking announced during a high-level meeting in Europe in recent weeks to handle the issue differently.
“Heads of government expressed their abhorrence and outrage with respect to the treatment of Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic. This human rights situation is exacerbated as the tempo of so-called voluntary repatriation gathers pace in unregulated conditions resulting from pressures and the threat of violence as well as the absence of a revised bilateral framework between Haiti and the Dominican Republic that the latter has been unwilling to conclude,” the communique stated.