At the core of  the protection mechanism for migrants returning from the DR

IOM in collaboration with  its local partners have set up Border Resource Centers (BRCs) at the four official border points of Ouanaminthe, Belladère, Malpasse and Anse-à-Pîtres. By establishing referencing mechanisms and by facilitating access to basic social services, these structures aims to prevent irregular migration and human trafficking while also supporting the sustainable reintegration of vulnerable migrants in Haiti. The last BRC opened in March 2018 in Ouanaminthe in the Nord- East department. Discover the core of the protection mechanism for migrants returning from the Dominican Republic. Read more

"I was with my cousin in the street when it happened. Dominican soldiers arrested us and asked us for our identity papers and passports. Since we did not have these documents, they put us on a bus that took us back to the border, "recalls Chandlè, 14 years old. The boy had lived for the past 11 years in Mao, Dominican Republic.

After having spent three days in a detention center in Dajabón, in Dominican Republic, he was identified as a vulnerable migrant by IOM in Dominican Republic and referred to the Border Resource Center in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.

When IOM Haiti Protection Officer Michelot Difficile welcomed Chandlè to the BRC, the boy was exhausted. “As any other vulnerable migrant that arrives at the BRC, Chandlè received a hot meal from the Haitian Red Cross and then a local protection officer from IBESR (the Haitian Institute of Welfare and Research) registered him to identify his vulnerabilities and contact his family,” explained Michelot.

The Border Resource Centers allows for the voluntary registration and the referencing of vulnerable migrants to support structures (medical centers, shelters and other structures adequate to the identified needs).

In collaboration with the Institute of Welfare and Research (IBESR) and the National Office of Migration (ONM), these centers allow for better identification, guidance and assistance to vulnerable migrants. Additionall, they  provide a space where synergies between local state, civil society and multilateral protection actors are fostered. Each BRC relies on the support of trained registration officers to assist vulnerable migrants. Once registered, unaccompanied minors, pregnant or nursing women andthe wounded receive tailored assistance according to their needs: clothing at the GARR (Groupe d’Appui au Refugies et aux Rapatries), a hot meal or transport assistance at the local Red Cross Center, accommodation at the SJM (Service Jesuite aux Migrants) or at the Saint John Sisters.

While IBESR is contacting Chandlè’s mother in Dominican Republic and his extended family in Haiti, Chandlè and his deported companions will be staying at the Sisters of St John in Ouanaminthe. While waiting for the car which will take them to the provisional shelter, the kids waited on the benches of the BRC, chatting and and drinkingglasses of water, protected from the hustle and bustle of the busy border city on market day.

"Chandlè's grandmother lives in Trou du Nord, a town located at an hour's drive from Ouanaminthe. We will contact her and look into family reunification options," explains Nathalie, IBESR protection officer. This morning, she is responsible for registering vulnerable minors on their arrival at the Border Resource Center of Ouanaminthe.

"Over the past two weeks, we had 30 cases of unaccompanied minors. Before completing the registration form, I take the time to talk to them and gain their trusts, " she explains, carefully arranging the form which has been completed by Chandlè and his two companions.

t At that moment,  Mavinslo, 7 years-old, enters the registration center of ​​the BRC. The little boy wears a blue shirt and walks with a light and confident stepwhile tightly holding the hand of the police officer who accompanies him. "He says he comes from Delmas 32 (a district of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, located 300 km - between 7 hours and 9 hours of travel according to the transport used) "murmurs the policewoman. While stroking the child’s head, the POLIFRONT Officer provides the details of the arrest and then returns to her post on the bridge that separates the border. It is on this crossing bridge, that the border police,

IOM, SJM, and IBESR prevent the passage of unaccompanied minors or adults with children that do not have a proper identification documents and/or travelling authorization.

Nathalie is about to begin the child’s registration, she sits the boy near her and takes out the registration form for toddlers. Mavinslo, imperturbable drinks water and appears calm.

 Since June 2015, when the registration period of the National Regularization Plan for Foreigners (NRPF) in the Dominican Republic closed, IOM and its civil society partners have registered more than 230,000[1] Haitian migrants that have returned to Haiti through border monitoring activities. Of these returned migrants, 4,167 are presumed to be unaccompanied or separated children and 5,807 are persons at risk of statelessness.

Migrants often arrive in precarious conditions. They are traumatized and have no access to financial resources, and are sometimes wounded. Many of these migrants have no connection or direct link to Haiti and are exposed to human rights violations and/or are victims of human trafficking

The BRCs represent the only state structures that ensure the care of vulnerable migrants like Chandlè, Mavinslo and many others, at the four official border crossing points. The three centers inaugurated in 2017 have already welcomed, registered and assisted 287 migrants in distress in 2018 (135 women and 152 men). [2]

in Ouanaminthe,  the BRC guarantees the presence of social partners and other non-state protection actors to assiste Chandlè, Mavinslo  and many other vulnerable migrants. It also facilitate an integrated response with POLIFRONT, the Haitian Border Police. This specialized police  unit was created by the Haitian National Police in 2014 and  began its operations in January 2018, with the deployment of 91 specialized police officers trained on securing the border separating the cities of Ouanaminthe and Dajabòn in the North-East Department.

"IOM advocates for dignified and safe migration as well as integrated and efficient border management system,” said IOM Haiti Chief of Mission Fabien Sambussy. “This approach is now materializing in Ouanaminthe through the assistance offered to vulnerable migrants in the BRC, and thanks to the reinforcement of border security by the POLIFRONTs. IOM hopes that these two components which are essential to the management of an international border will soon be completed by the implementation of the Border ID Card."

Later that day, when we visit the Saint John Sisters' Center, Mavinslo greets us with a balloon in his hand and a huge smile. He laughs loudly having fun with the other children temporarily residing at the Center.

Chandlè is also there, the boy looks more peaceful than earlier this morning, "I am glad I have found a safe place to rest”, says Chandlè. “I have a bed, the Sisters gave me clothes and food and I have friends to play with, I am reassured that my family knows where I am. I was so scared. I just want to go back home to see my mother and return to school” , he says in perfect Spanish.

Julie Harlet IOM Haiti

 

 

[1] The source of this figure is the latest report "Border Monitoring Sitrep, tracking returnees from the Dominican Republic" of 28 September 2018. This number is not updated because IOM's Border Monitoring activities were closed due to lack of funding. This latest report is available here: http://haiti.iom.int/sites/default/files/documents_files/2017-09-28-%20IOM%20DTM%20Border%20Monitoring%20-%20Situation%20Report%20.pdf

[2] Sitrep of the project, ’’Aide aux enfants et femmes vulnérables dans les régions frontalières en Haïti’’, January 2018.