US resumes deportation flights to Haiti despite continuing bloodshed

Last Updated: June 20, 2024By

Deportation Chaos: Haitians Returned Amidst Turmoil

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More than 70 Haitians have been sent back to their homeland from the United States amidst a backdrop of chaos and violence. This marked the first deportation flight since armed gangs unleashed a brutal uprising that has gripped the capital and ousted the prime minister.

The flight touched down in Cap-Haïtien early Thursday, a move criticized as “inhumane” by human rights activists who fear for the safety of those returned to a country largely controlled by criminal factions.

Nicole Phillips, legal director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, condemned the action as “reckless and cruel,” highlighting the dire conditions awaiting deportees in a nation where basic necessities like work, healthcare, and education are scarce. With no functioning Haitian government to oversee their return, the deportees are left vulnerable to the whims of violent gangs.

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Haiti has been mired in turmoil since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Recent months have seen a sharp escalation of crises as gangs unite to unleash unprecedented violence, prompting the US to evacuate embassy staff and citizens last month.

Ariel Henry, the acting prime minister, has stepped down, leaving a transitional council in charge amidst ongoing violence, widespread hunger, and a collapsing healthcare system.

Thursday saw further bloodshed as armed gunmen reportedly killed eight civilians in the Carrefour neighborhood while seizing control of a police station, exacerbating the already dire situation.

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Diego Da Rin, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, warned that the appointment of a transitional council to select Henry’s successor could provoke further unrest as gangs escalate their attacks on vital infrastructure, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

The decision to fly migrants to Cap-Haïtien instead of Port-au-Prince reflects the precarious security situation in the capital, forcing deportees to navigate through conflict zones and gang-controlled checkpoints to reach their homes.

Phillips emphasized that the perceived ties to the US make deportees prime targets for extortion, kidnapping, and torture by criminal gangs, placing them in grave danger.

The resumption of deportations amid Haiti’s turmoil has drawn condemnation from Democratic lawmakers like Yvette D Clarke, who denounced the move as “unacceptable” given the country’s extreme instability and violence.

In this political maneuvering, Haitians once again find themselves as pawns, facing dire consequences as a result.

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