IOM Monitors Dominican Republic – Haiti Border

IOM field teams have been conducting monitoring and fact-finding missions to assess cross-border movements along the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic following the expiration of the registration component in the Regularization Plan for Foreigners in the Dominican Republic (Plan Nacional de Regularización de Extranjeros – PNRE.)

From 16th June to 3rd July 2015, IOM monitoring teams were present at nine different border crossing points. Although the data collected is non-exhaustive and does not capture the total number of persons crossing the border or all the existing entry points, it presents a partial snapshot of the current movement trends.   

IOM field teams interviewed 1,133 individuals, corresponding to 349 households, who had crossed the border under varying conditions. The majority (665 persons or 58.7%) said they had spontaneously returned to Haiti, while 408 persons (or 36.0%) said that they had been forcibly returned by different entities, including the military, police, immigration officials and civilians. This mixed group also included agricultural workers who had been laid off by employers.

Approximately half of those assessed (579 persons or 51.1%) said that they were born in Haiti, while 380 persons or 33.9% said that they had been born in the Dominican Republic. Only 93 individuals (or 8.2%) said that they had been registered in the Dominican PNRE.
Nearly 75% of the persons interviewed (847 individuals) were below the age of 30. Of these, 20.7% (234 individuals) were children below the age of five. Six cases of unaccompanied minors were encountered and referred to the relevant Haitian authorities for follow-up.

“Different dynamics and movement trends were observed at each entry point,” said Emmanuelle Deryce, an IOM Haiti data analyst. “In Malpasse, we have mostly observed spontaneous returns, whereas in Belladère returns were mainly involuntary. In Anse-à-Pitre, in the community of Tête à l’Eau, the majority of migrants were originally from this area and living in informal settlements with their families. Many men still cross the border every day for work.”  

The Haitian government has asked IOM and the international community to support its efforts in identifying, registering, and assisting the returnees, who may include people at risk of statelessness.   

“The most urgent challenge is to establish an efficient monitoring, profiling and referral system along the entire border. Supporting the Haitian government in establishing a proper monitoring system is essential to overcome the current uncertainty about returns,” said Gregoire Goodstein, IOM Haiti Chief of Mission.

IOM will train NGOs working at the border on fundamentals of data collection, screening, detection and referral of specific protection cases. It will also provide the network with logistical capacity to ensure timely collection of screening forms, which will be centralized into a database.

IOM monitors have been collecting testimonies at the Fond Bayard school in Fond Parisien, where the Jesuit Refugee Services and the school principal are providing meals and assistance to some returnee families who entered from Malpasse.

Saint Soi, 35, is married with four children. He lived in the Dominican Republic from the age of seven. Before being returned to Haiti, he used to work as a farmer in Neyba. He would also frequently travel between his native Haiti and the Dominican Republic to buy and sell goods. Saint Soi told IOM that, after his house was raided by unknown individuals and his belonging stolen, he found some military at his door, who returned him and his family to Haiti.

“I registered in the regularization plan, but didn’t have the means to obtain all the requested documents,” said Saint Soi. “I know people who have spent up to 20,000 pesos (USD 442) and still saw their application rejected. Life without papers is hard, I couldn’t send my children to school in the Dominican Republic. Now I hope I will get help in finding a job to be able to settle with my family in Haiti.”  

Olicile Orisma, 27, is also married with four children. She and her husband, both farmers, used to live in a batey, a residential area on a sugarcane plantation for its workers, near Barahona.

“When the military came, they didn’t let us take anything. Luckily, my husband and four children were with me at the time. They put us all on a truck in the morning and left us at the Malpasse border in the afternoon. The children went all day without eating and drinking. When we arrived, someone told us that there was a school in Fond Bayard where returnees were receiving assistance. So we came here on a moto taxi,” she says.

“Like many others here, I left Haiti a long time ago. I come from Fond Verettes; both my parents died, and their house was destroyed by a hurricane. I have no place to go. We don’t know for how long we’ll be here, if it’s for a day or a month. We sleep all together – 12-15 people in the same room. I need somewhere to go where I can be with my children,” she adds.  

For a map of the area please go here.

For photos, please go to: Stories from the Border

For further information please contact Ilaria Lanzoni at IOM Haiti, Tel: +509 370 250 66, Email: ilanzoni@iom.int.