Port-au-Prince raised an alarm Tuesday over budding regional security concerns and a potential humanitarian crisis, as waves of expelled Haitians leave Dominican Republic and cross over to the other side of the shared Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
"This situation represents a risk of humanitarian catastrophe, a destabilizing factor for the country, a serious threat to domestic and regional security," said Haitian foreign minister Lener Renauld to U.N. officials gathered in Haiti's capital city Port-au-Prince.
Some half a million stateless Haitian-Dominicans face mass deportation from Dominican Republic in what's been called an “ethnic purge.” Poverty-stricken Haiti has condemned the expulsion measures and signaled it is not equipped to deal with the security issues posed by a massive influx of migration.
The Dominican Republic insists that the more than 17,000 people who have left the country for Haiti over the last two weeks have done so voluntarily. Last week, authorities ramped up measures to expedite the mass exit of Haitians by providing free transportation to the border for those willing to leave on their own accord.
The Organization of American States has announced that it will send a delegation to evaluate what it referred to as an “alarming situation” in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
“The situation has been deteriorating as the days go by,” said OAS secretary general Luis Almagro, calling for the Dominican Republic to halt the major out-migration to Haiti.
The Caribbean bloc known as Caricom has also condemned the expulsion, calling on the Dominican Republic to stop its deportation plan and respect the human rights of Haitian descendants.
The roots of the current crisis lie in a 2013 Dominican court decision that instantly pushed hundreds of thousands of Haitian-Dominicans into a precarious statelessness by ruling to strip children of undocumented foreign nations of citizenship, dating as far back as 1929.
A government-imposed deadline for undocumented people to register with Dominican immigration authorities that came down two weeks ago set a time limit on Haitians' stay in the Dominican Republic. With few permits granted, the regularization plan was essentially a mass-deportation order for Haitians and many Dominicans of Haitian descent.
Since as far back as the late 1800s, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have crossed the border fleeing violence and poverty to seek a better life in the Dominican Republic.
Haiti, historically poorer than the Dominican Republic, is still struggling in the aftermath of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that ravaged the country and left thousands of homes, businesses, institutions, and essential services in ruins.