5 Minute Guide to Haiti's Border Crisis
Recap - What the %&#* is Happening?
About a month ago the Dominican Republic (DR) began officially implementing a controversial immigration policy that originates from a 2013 ruling. Anyone who has emigrated from Haiti, was born from parents who emigrated from Haiti, or have grandparents who emigrated after 1929 is at risk of deportation, political violence, and no longer has citizenship in the DR. June 17th marked the deadline to apply for temporary residency.
Thousands fled in fear before the policy took effect. Now 1,500 people have been officially deported.
The migrants, the refugees, they end up on Haiti's border frontier, camping out on isolated arid land with no trees, no shade, and amidst drought. They are not receiving little to no help from Haiti's government, which is about to see elections in one month.
Check out Peter Granitz's article on Reuters for a well-informed and in-depth breakdown.
Social Media - Twitter's the Thing
To stay up-to-date by the minute, follow the social media campaign #rights4allinDR, started by the coalition by the same name. According to the coalition's website, their mission is to restore basic human rights and dignity to all people in the Dominican Republic "regardless of race, class, or ethnicity. These rights include a restoration of citizenship for Dominicans of Haitian descent and real due process- without fear of violence and intimidation..."
They assert that the current political climate in the Dominican Republic is one that dangerously resembles ethnic cleansing.
Etant Dupain, Haitian freelance journalist, has been consistently broadcasting real-time updates via Twitter that give first-hand accounts of mass deportations at the Malpasse Border, status reports on ever-changing conditions in displacement camps, a socio-political context, and a personal look at boiling racism from people in the Dominican Republic (provided "in-kind" by Twitter users from DR who have harassed Dupain in response to his reporting).
Displacement Camps' Current Conditions
The quick answer: not good.
There are four camps along the Southern border. The people in the camps, around 1,500 of them, are dependent on others outside of the camps for access to food, medical support, and many of their basic needs. In short, they are extremely vulnerable.
Social Tap*, a humanitarian organization that targets Asset-Based Citizen Driven (also known as Asset-Based Community Driven, or ABCD) solutions, has been working with locals in Anse à Pitres to conduct surveys of the people in the camps to map out a clear picture of who they are, what their needs are, and the types of assistance they qualify for so that resources can be properly allocated and so that solutions can come from the people's interests, abilities, and skills and thus be longer sustaining.
SOLUTIONS... AND CONFLICTS
Life and Death - On September 8th a young man, 22 years old, died of an infection. His death was preventable. Days later a pregnant woman went into labor and was airlifted, to a hospital in Port-au-Prince. She gave birth to stillborn twins. Social Tap, who had a hand in accessing the Haiti Air Ambulance has now identified approx. 15-18 pregnant women in the camps. To prevent future avoidable tragedies and loss of life, access to medical support is essential.
The Basics - Food, Water, Sanitation... proper access to all is compromised. According to a conversation with Kara Lightburn, executive director of Social Tap, a fight broke out in a camp when town officials and the mayor of Ane à Pitres came to the camp after heavy rainfall, and demanded the camp not build any more latrines because they do not want to camps to become a permanent fixture. Rain compromises sanitation, increases health risks, including the spread of Cholera.
The people need to be allowed to keep their latrines, and to build more to meet the needs of the people. Social Tap's network has disseminated water treatment supplies, but what is currently lacking are water tanks, and easier access to clean water. In order to do this, the people need to be connected to the resources.
Earlier this week, a generous donor gave $150.00 to Gaia Ansapit via Mutual Aid Film which reached Volmar "Eddy" Jonas this Thursday, September 17th. He purchased 3 giant bags of rice which he and volunteers portioned into smaller bags that they distributed to 108 families of the roughly 440 families in Camp #2.
"I feel very happy about it. We gave food to 108 families. We bought 3 big bags of rice and we put 3 pot of rice in each black bags to give them. They were so happy about it and say if everyday they can find something like this that they can make sure everyday they will have something to eat even it not too big." - Volmar "Eddy" Jonas writes on September 19th.
*Full disclosure: At this time Gaia Ansapit, Mutual Aid Film, and Social Tap / The Haiti Initiative are working together as part of a support network to serve the refugee population in Haiti along the border. I encourage you to donate to Social Tap here, or to Gaia Ansapit via Mutual Aid Film at this link to ensure that your funds are going directly to resources for the people in the camps.