UNHCR calls for US$12.5 million to help quake-displaced Haitians

News Stories, 13 April 2010

© UNHCR/J.Björgvinsson
These two girls are living with a host family. They fled their home after the January 12 earthquake struck Haiti.

GENEVA, April 13 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Tuesday called for US$12.5 million to help people living outside of formal camps in Haiti and other quake survivors who have fled to neighbouring Dominican Republic.

To date, UNHCR has been actively supporting the protection and camp management programmes set up in Haiti to help survivors of the devastating January 12 earthquake. The agency has sent emergency team members specializing in protection, logistics, registration and profiling to assist with the humanitarian effort.

Shelter material was rapidly dispatched to support around 100,000 beneficiaries. In neighbouring Dominican Republic, UNHCR was asked to lead the protection response, deploying an emergency team to work with the Dominican authorities to help Haitians evacuated there.

"UNHCR has conducted assessments to identify the needs of those displaced outside of Port-au-Prince and recognized camps," Melissa Fleming, the agency's chief spokesperson, told journalists in Geneva. "With this new appeal, UNHCR is aiming to further assist the population living outside camps, thus preventing further displacement or premature return before appropriate and safe conditions are established," she added.

During the course of this year, UNHCR and its partners hope to implement 85 quick impact projects that will target quake-displaced people who have received a lower level of humanitarian assistance than the population living in camps and in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Twenty-five of these projects will focus on the displaced population living near the border with Dominican Republic. In addition, UNHCR will aim to support Haiti with aid for 60,000 displaced people in the border region and the West, Central and Artibonite areas.

"UNHCR will continue to support the return to Haiti of patients discharged from hospitals in the Dominican Republic and will assist vulnerable individuals who need to remain. In Santo Domingo, support will be given to churches, host families and shelters that are caring for discharged patients and vulnerable Haitians, including unaccompanied children, orphans, women at risk and the disabled," Fleming said.

The UN refugee agency and its partners will also support vulnerable third-country nationals, including refugees and undocumented migrants, who were living in Haiti at the time of the earthquake and who either fled to neighbouring Dominican Republic or became displaced in Haiti. In addition to short term humanitarian assistance, they will be offered counselling about voluntary return to their home countries or alternative durable solutions.

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Statelessness in the Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, UNHCR runs programmes that benefit refugees and asylum-seekers from Haiti as well as migrants and members of their family born in the country, some of whom could be stateless or at risk of becoming stateless. Many live in bateyes, which are destitute communities on once thriving sugar cane plantations. The inhabitants have been crossing over from Haiti for decades to work in the sugar trade.

Among these initiatives, UNHCR provides legal aid, academic remedial courses and vocational training for refugees and asylum-seekers. They also support entrepreneurial initiatives and access to micro credit.

UNHCR also has an increased presence in border communities in order to promote peaceful coexistence between Dominican and Haitian populations. The UN refugee agency has found that strengthening the agricultural production capacities of both groups promotes integration and mitigates tension.

Many Haitians and Dominicans living in the dilapidated bateyes are at risk of statelessness. Stateless people are not considered as nationals by any country. This can result in them having trouble accessing and exercising basic rights, including education and medical care as well as employment, travel and housing. UNHCR aims to combat statelessness by facilitating the issuance of birth certificates for people living in the bateyes.

Statelessness in the Dominican Republic

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