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The Dominican Refugee Crisis Is Coming

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Derwayne M. Wills
Member since April 2, 2015
  • 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 inalienable.

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 country.

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.

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