IRC Expresses Concern for Haitian Refugees in the Dominican Republic and Caribbean Region
The IRC and partner groups say the United States and Dominican governments need to vastly improve policies toward Haitian refugees and take steps to increase protection of the most vulnerable.
In February, representatives from the IRC, the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children and Brown Medical School traveled to the Dominican Republic to assess protection and humanitarian needs of Haitian refugees living there.
In a report on their findings, delegation members say there is currently no meaningful protection for Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic or Caribbean region. The report says Haitian refugee women and children in particular require critical attention, as they are especially vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation. The report also notes there is limited access to preventative healthcare services and treatment for Haitians in the region, a fact that represents a public health concern, particularly with regard to infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
The United States needs to take active steps to address the urgent protection needs of Haitians, says Abigail Price, the IRC's national immigration director and co-author of the report, which warns that, The continued degradation of the political and economic situation in Haiti could quickly result in an outflow of refugees.
Among a series of recommendations issued, the delegation calls on the United States government to increase its support of UNHCR efforts to build asylum-processing capacity in the region.
It also appeals to the Dominican government to prevent human rights abuses against Haitian asylum seekers, expeditiously consider pending asylum claims and establish a legitimate and timely adjudication process for future claims that may be filed.
In addition, the delegation urges that Haitian refugees be designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS), that deportations back to Haiti cease and that Haitians in the Caribbean become eligible for the United States Refugee Admissions Program.
The mission to the Dominican Republic was planned in response to ongoing civil and political unrest in Haiti and in anticipation of presidential elections to be held in Haiti in November 2005.
To read the full report, click here.