Refugee Crisis in the Dominican Republic and Haiti

Tens of thousands in the Dominican Republic are facing deportation as an extended deadline to apply for legal status quickly approaches. The vast majority of those affected by the Foreign Regularization Plan are undocumented Haitian migrant workers and those born in the Dominican Republic to undocumented workers. Human rights organizations estimate that as high as 200,000 Dominican-born people will now be stateless, including 60,000 children, as a result of the new policy.

There is already a trend of what the Dominican Republic government calls “spontaneous” returns to Haiti, where families who are afraid of being split up are taking advantage of government organized buses to Haiti. With most of these families, only certain members of the families qualified for status in the Dominican Republic through the registration process and others did not. Many of these families are moving in with extended family in Haiti, many of whom already live far below the poverty level.

The deadline for Haitians in the Dominican Republic to register for status was extended by three weeks, but it is not expected to make a major impact, since most of those who could likely legally qualify already registered by the initial deadline.

Week of Compassion is working with our partners to help affected communities in the Dominican Republic by providing registration assistance to those applying for national identity cards. Church World Service (CWS) has organized case managers, transportation from 11 bateyes to the closest registration offices, and additional assistance with associated costs (food, office supplies, and follow-ups).

Additionally, our partner Batey Relief Alliance (BRA) believes that many batey residents will go into hiding once the extended deadline passes. BRA’s health and nutrition programs benefit more than 100,000 people annually, but fear of deportation will keep those who require immediate or ongoing medical and nutritional care from seeking assistance. The threats and effects of massive deportation policies will make the already vulnerable batey population more susceptible to infectious diseases, severe malnutrition and, subsequently, higher mortality rates.

It is unclear at this point what exactly will happen after the extended deadline expires. Our partners on the ground in the Dominican Republic and Haiti are working on this developing situation from several angles: advocacy with both countries and with our own governments, continuing to provide much needed medical and nutritional care within the batey communities, and developing contingency planning in the event of immediate and large-scale deportations.

Week of Compassion will continue to monitor the situation and respond to immediate needs as they arise.

THIS WEEK’S RESPONSES:

DISASTER RELIEF AND EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE
Dominican Republic, Haitian Deportation Crisis
Illinois, Flood Assistance
Missouri, Flood Assistance
Syria, Refugee Children Relief
Uganda, Congolese Refugee Influx

DEVELOPMENT AND LONG-TERM RECOVERY AND REHABILITATION
China, Disaster Relief Preparedness
North America, Disaster Recovery