Anse-à-Pîtres, Haïti- June 20th 2017-The International Organization for Migration (IOM) opened, in coordination with the Mayor of Anse-à-Pîtres and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, the first Border Resource Center (BRC). Three additional BRCs are in the process of being built at the remaining three official border sites (Malpasse, Belladère, and Ouanaminthe). These centers will allow local protection agencies (ONM, BPM, and IBESR) to better identify, orient, and assist vulnerable migrants—all while creating a space where local protection agencies can collaborate amongst themselves and provide psycho-social counselling.
“Migrants are uprooted persons who have been left behind. They have the dignity to be protected. These are human beings beyond all else. Opening a center where we can welcome migrants and provide them with psychological counseling to heal their wounds is a strong symbolic and humane gesture. This important initiative is supported and encouraged by the Haitian government,” according to the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Mr. Roosevelt Bellevue, during the BRC inauguration.
”Migration is a phenomenon that must contribute to the enrichment of humanity. However, given the circumstances, migration is increasingly becoming a crisis that threatens peaceful cohabitation and productive and prosperous civilizations both today and tomorrow. In the face of such decline, human wisdom must get the upper hand in order to restore human dignity, respect, and hope no matter what the case may be,” the Minister later added.
The border region between the Dominican Republic and Haiti is a characterized as one of weak state institutions and the absence of socio-economic opportunities. A sizeable number of migrants cross the border through irregular migration in search of services and opportunities that are unavailable in Haiti. The absence of documentation only worsens their vulnerabilities and exposes them to different forms of abuse and ill-treatment, such as human trafficking (including forced labor, sexual exploitation, etc.).
“Since the expiration of the registration period to the National Regularization Plan of Foreigners (NRPF) in June 2015, IOM has recorded that more than 202,252* Haitian migrants have spontaneously returned or were deported to Haiti. This figure bears witness to the sizeable assistance needs that exist throughout the border region in order to help vulnerable migrants, particularly women and children. The majority of which arrive in precarious conditions (i.e. no access to resources, separation from their families, undernourishment, and exhaustion from spending several days in Dominican detention centers). They have, therefore, mostly given up on themselves once they arrive in Haiti,” explained Fabien Sambussy, Chief of the IOM Mission in Haiti.
It is in this context that the IOM, along with the financial support of the Canadian government, has implemented an assistance project for migrants titled, “To Help Vulnerable Children and Women in the Border Regions of Haiti.” “Canada is proud to help ameliorate the protection and the promotion of the fundamental rights of women and children; this initiative is well aligned with the new feminist policy of development assistance of Canada,” declared Ivan Roberts, Head of the Haiti-Canada Cooperation.
This project seeks to ameliorate the capacity of local actors in the fight against wrongdoings in irregular migration and the trafficking of persons through the four official border crossing points in Ouanaminthe, Belladère, Malpasse, and d’Anse-à-Pîtres. The project also seeks to put in place referral mechanisms in order to facilitate greater access to basic services and support the sustainable reintegration of vulnerable migrants in Haiti.
The Minister of the Status of Women and Women’s Rights, Ms. Eunide Innocent was also pleased with the new infrastructure that was put in place. “Respecting human dignity remains an unbroken part of the history in the fight for women’s rights, “in every circumstance the rights of women must be respected.””
The Border Resource Center constitutes the cornerstone of the project to allow for the registration and referral of vulnerable migrants to assistance institutions (medical centers, lodging centers, among other resource networks supported by the Ministry of Social Affairs).
The BRC is also at the heart of protection mechanisms for returning migrants and deportees from the Dominican Republic. It represents the first state institution tasked with ensuring the safe and respectable return of Haitian migrants to their country of origin.
IOM reiterates its unconditional support to the Ministries, authorities, and migration-focused Haitian institutions working to address migratory problems that the Haitian government must confront both internally and externally. IOM hopes to continue supporting the Haitian government with all of their efforts to insure and promote regular migration and protect the most vulnerable migrants.
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