Haitian Migrants Returning from the Dominican Republic Faced with Drought, Poverty and Lack of Opportunities

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration

Haiti - Haiti’s South-East department is one of the worst affected by the prolonged drought that is currently hitting the country, which has caused an alarming food insecurity and malnutrition situation.

Unfortunately, this also is the region where the majority of border crossings have been observed since June, according to IOM’s border monitoring reports. Most of the families have crossed the border spontaneously, mentioning that they feared being deported without their relatives and losing their belongings. 

Following the expiration of the registration period of the National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners (PNRE in Spanish) in the Dominican Republic on 17 June, thousands of people have crossed the border from the Dominican Republic, either spontaneously or forcibly returned to Haiti by Dominican authorities. For many, returning has been a challenging experience. – Focus on the situation in Anse-à-Pitres

Due to the scarcity of resources, poor access to basic services and lack of job opportunities, crossing to the Dominican Republic to access health care, public schools or work in the agricultural or construction sector was a traditional coping mechanism for many Haitian families in the area.

Upon returning to Haiti, some returnees went back to their community of origin, to be hosted by relatives or to rent a home, while others, with nowhere to go, gathered in makeshift shelters in the dusty surroundings of Anse-à-Pitres.

Parc Kado is one of the four informal settlements that have sprung up in the area, lacking in the most essential services. It appears as a host of multicolor tents amidst an arid ground, scourged by the heat and covered with dust. Residents have used tree branches, bamboo sticks, cardboard and even bedsheets to build their makeshift shelters. As children run and play in the dirt, a group of women is chatting on the shade of an improvised wooden church built by the community.

One of them, Istoline, said that she recently came back from Aguas Negras in the Dominican Republic, after having spent over 25 years working there as a farmer. “At least we feel safe here,” said Istoline, “because this is our country and no one can threaten us. But we need a job to stay. Our fields are dry and the animals are dying because of the drought. We have nothing to eat.” The other women nod assertively.

Like Istoline, many returnees wish to remain in their native Haiti, provided that they can work and have a place to call home. 

Background information
Since 17 June, IOM has carried out border monitoring activities and referred the most vulnerable protection cases, including refugees, unaccompanied minors, separated families, the elderly and disabled, to relevant governmental institutions and international organizations for appropriate individual assistance. Watch video

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

Returnees with nowhere to go gather in makeshift shelters in Anse-à-Pitres. © IOM 2015