OHCHR / UNHCR urge extending suspension of returns to Haiti

Briefing Notes, 12 February 2010

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 12 February 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are jointly urging countries to suspend all involuntary returns to Haiti due to the continuing humanitarian crisis. While the international response to the disaster is well under way, assistance efforts and services have still to reach a significant portion of the affected population with many people still lacking basic amenities such as shelter, food, water and medical assistance. Over 1.2 million have lost their homes. We are particularly concerned about the large numbers of highly vulnerable people, including the injured as well as separated or orphaned children.

Therefore, pending stabilization and until such time as people can return safely and sustainably, OHCHR and UNHCR call on all countries not to return Haitians at this time and to continue granting interim protection measures on humanitarian grounds.