Governments urged not to return Haitians

Briefing Notes, 21 June 2011

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 21 June 2011, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are renewing their appeal to governments to suspend, on humanitarian grounds, all involuntary returns to Haiti, as precarious conditions continue to persist in the country.

Eighteen months after the massive earthquake of January 2010, an estimated 680,000 people are still displaced within Haiti, living in over 1,000 tented camps in Port-au-Prince and other earthquake-affected areas. An unknown number remains outside the country.

Despite the recent elections and ongoing reconstruction efforts, Haiti, weakened by the earthquake, cannot yet ensure adequate protection or care especially for some vulnerable groups in case of return, such as unaccompanied minors, disabled persons, people with health problems, victims of trafficking or of sexual abuse.

Given the current situation in Haiti, UNHCR and OHCHR are urging governments to renew, on humanitarian grounds, residence permits and other mechanisms that have allowed Haitians to remain outside their country.

The appeal calls on governments to assess Haitian cases on an individual basis and to pay special consideration and refrain from returning to Haiti persons with special protection needs, and to prevent situations where returns can lead to family separation.

Joint UNHCR-OHCHR Return Advisory Update on Haiti

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