The Dominican Refugee Crisis Is Coming
Derwayne M. Wills
- 19 Posts
- Age 25
It is common knowledge that world powers are sometimes slow in responding to humanitarian crises. Lack of political will, lack of consensus at the multilateral level, or even bureaucratic red tape - these are all factors for consideration. But while we take time to consider those factors, there are still thousands of men, women, and children pouring into makeshift settlements on the Haitian border with the Dominican Republic (DR).
If the Syrian conflict is any example to be used, then we know
how refugee crises can accelerate rapidly. I have read the
reports. Some of the stories, I know. When we collectively use
the term ‘refugee’, we sometimes forget that before they were
refugees, they were humans. And as humans, they’re rights are
When Dominicans are denied citizenship because of a 2013 law that
applies ‘retroactively’ to every case since 1929, then it is more
than just denying a document with your name and nationality. It
is denying your identity as a human being, it is denying access
to essential social services like healthcare, education, and
protection from the State.
About two months ago, I made a plea via blog to “Save Our
Dominican Children From Statelessness!” Two months later, and
the mass deportations of Dominicans into Haiti has continued.
That situation has gotten worse.
Settlement camps have now been set
up along the southeastern border of Haiti, where that country
meets the Dominican Republic. Families have been torn apart and
are forced to live in squalor because they have no formal
provisions. The numbers in those camps are steadily rising with
more and more Dominicans being forcefully expelled from their
While Europe grapples with the Mediterranean disasters where
refugees risk their lives to cross from Eritrea in Africa, and
other conflict-ridden countries, we must not turn a blind eye to
what is happening in Haiti. ‘Nip it in the bud’ is an old
Guyanese saying that means to prevent the development of
something. I feel we must ‘nip’ this situation ‘in the bud’
before it degenerates into a humanitarian crises.
We must not become so demoralised as to build walls against those
who need our help the most. Turning a blind eye to the problem
doesn't make it disappear. World leaders, and even the leaders of
the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the Organisation of
American States (OAS) have a golden opportunity to consider the
Dominican refugee situation proactively instead of reactively.
The world cannot afford another refugee crisis.