US should suspend expulsion flights to Haiti

Haiti earthquake - Les Cayes

Haiti 2021 © Alexandre Michel/MSF

Last week, the United States Department of Homeland Security said it would be repatriating Haitian migrants who have gathered on the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas. Approximately 12,000 migrants and asylum seekers—most of them Haitian—are living in makeshift camps under the international bridge, with limited access to food, water, and shelter. The US is accelerating deportation flights to Haiti while the country is in the midst of a political and social crisis, as rising insecurity and armed conflict force thousands of people to flee their homes in the capital Port-au-Prince.

Migrants in Del Rio are being expelled to Haiti under the authority of Title 42, a harmful policy that exploits the pandemic as a way to effectively shut down asylum. Since the public order was issued in March 2020, the United States has carried out over one million expulsions.

MSF and multiple immigration and human rights organizations have repeatedly called for the immediate end to this dangerous, harmful US policy.

The United States government should suspend its expulsion flights to Haiti on humanitarian grounds. The insecurity that we see today in Port-au-Prince is the worst we have seen in decades. Armed groups have effectively taken over large areas of the capital and their attacks have forced thousands of people to flee their homes. More than half of the patients arriving at our Tabarre hospital in Port-au-Prince have suffered life-threatening gunshot wounds, often from high-powered firearms that have proliferated across the city. Armed clashes in two neighborhoods, Martissant and Cité Soleil, forced us to move longstanding medical programs to other areas of Port-au-Prince this year. Many people who have fled the violence are living in camps within the city in appalling conditions.

It is unconscionable to return migrants against their will to a situation of uncertainty and mortal danger. On top of this, Haiti's southern region was hit by an earthquake less than six weeks ago, damaging and overwhelming an already overburdened health system. When people are seeking safety in the US, putting them onto planes and forcing them into this context is beyond inhumane.

—Avril Benoît, executive director of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières-USA.