The United Nations is appealing to governments to suspend all involuntary returns to Haiti, given the precarious conditions that continue to persist in the Caribbean nation 18 months after the devastating January 2010 earthquake.
“Despite the recent elections and ongoing reconstruction efforts, Haiti, weakened by the earthquake, cannot yet ensure adequate protection or care especially for some vulnerable groups in case of return,” the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, told reporters in Geneva.
An estimated 680,000 people are still displaced within Haiti, living in over 1,000 tented camps in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other earthquake-affected areas. An unknown number remains outside the country. Given the current situation in Haiti, UNHCR and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are urging governments to renew, on humanitarian grounds, residence permits and other mechanisms that have allowed Haitians to remain outside their country. “The appeal calls on governments to assess Haitian cases on an individual basis and to pay special consideration and refrain from returning to Haiti persons with special protection needs, and to prevent situations where returns can lead to family separation,” Edwards said. [. . .]