HAITIANS at Risk Must Be Granted Refugee Protection says UN

HAITIANS at Risk Must Be Granted Refugee Protection says UN

NEW YORK, NY, March 22, 2024, The United Nations has again reminded its member states that people escaping the escalating violence in Haiti ought to be protected as refugees and should not be sent back to that country against their will.

In light of mounting worries about mass displacement, the UN refugee agency released new legal guidelines to guarantee the protection of the most vulnerable Haitian citizens.

This reminder is important, because a number of countries, including member states of CARICOM to which Haiti belong, have been repatriating Haitian refugees who turn up along their shores in makeshift boats.

These include Jamaica which, citing security concerns, arrest and charge Haitian refugees with illegal entry. Other CARICOM member states returning refugee Haitians are Barbados, the Bahamas, and Guyana.

In a statement, Elizabeth Tan, the head of UNHCR’s international protection section, stated, “Haitians’ lives, safety, and freedom are threatened by a confluence of skyrocketing gang violence and human rights violations.”

She stated that the organization wished to remind nations “of the imperative to ensure Haitians who may need international refugee protection receive it”.

“We also reiterate our call to all states to not forcibly return people to Haiti, including those who have had their asylum claims rejected.”

The UNHCR stated in its updated guidelines that several different groups of individuals in Haiti may be entitled to protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

“Haitians who should be deemed eligible for refugee protection may include political activists, journalists, judges, lawyers and others fighting corruption and crime, among other risk profiles,” it noted.

It additionally highlighted that protection should be given to under the 1984 Cartagena Declaration, which established regional refugee standards. “individuals affected by circumstances that seriously disturb public order in the country and by generalized violence in areas impacted by gang activities”.


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