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Haiti: Jesuits urge the state to provide justice to the displaced and migrants

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In recognition of the dignity and resilience of the Haitian people in the face of adversity, in this month of Lent, the delegates invited all the peoples of the Caribbean to undertake a process of reflection, conversion and reconciliation so that together they could become responsible for the future of the region.

Port-au-Prince, 6 April 2011 – In a public statement, the representatives of the refugee and migrant services of the Jesuits expressed their concern for the thousands of Haitians who are forced to live in destitution, facing hunger, overcrowding and poor sanitation following their displacement caused by the 12 January 2010 earthquake.

The three-day meeting, which ended on 27 March, was attended by representatives of the refugee and migrant services of the Jesuits from Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. In a press statement at the end of the event, the representatives urged both the current and incoming administrations to act immediately to guarantee Haitians' access to basic services.

The authorities, the statement continued, should prevent their eviction from camps until alternative housing can be found. For this to happen, the government must develop an emergency plan for the relocation of the displaced population.

Current uncertainty regarding the process of political transition and the deteriorating socio-economic climate has forced an alarming number of Haitians to leave the country. The authorities need to design and implement, the Jesuit organisations affirmed, an efficient migration policy, ensuring migrants have access to ID papers and consular protection.

These policies, the delegates acknowledged, also need to be accompanied by concrete measures of prevention, investigation, prosecution and punishment of offences committed by transnational criminal groups against migrants, particularly in relation to human trafficking and smuggling.

Civil society organisations play a crucial role in this process in their capacity to reach out to support migrants. Therefore, the delegates urged such agencies to undertake outreach and public awareness campaigns aimed at the migration population, highlighting the potential risks they face, their rights and obligations. Stable political transition.

According to the delegates, all sectors of Haitian society need to prioritise the common interest. Only in this way, they continued, can political stability be assured and a culture of peace and tolerance nurtured. A smooth political transition from one administration to another and the adoption of non-violence action and discourse between political opponents are of the utmost importance.

In this process of political normalisation, the delegates encouraged the member states of regional organisations, such as The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), to show more solidarity and humane treatment of Haitians.

In recognition of the dignity and resilience of the Haitian people in the face of adversity, in this month of Lent, the delegates invited all the peoples of the Caribbean to undertake a process of reflection, conversion and reconciliation so that together they could become responsible for the future of the region.