Haiti + 1 more

Irregular migrants risk lives leaving Haiti’s north-western coast by sea

Haiti – IOM Haiti has received additional funding of US$100,000 from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), to continue a programme that began in 2009 aimed at discouraging dangerous irregular migration from Haiti’s North-Western coast.

The new funding will allow IOM to continue building on the initial program which focused on providing direct assistance to irregular migrants intercepted at sea and returned to Haiti, while strengthening the Haitian Government’s capacity to address irregular migration in targeted communities along the North-Western coast.

With this new funding, IOM will provide direct assistance packages to 300 returned migrants. This will include reception assistance, registration, transportation, and temporary accommodation and medical assistance, if needed.

In order to reinforce the Government’s capacity, all assistance will be provided in collaboration with the National Office for Migration (ONM), the entity mandated to assist repatriated Haitians.

This project also includes the development of specific protocols to ensure the safety and security of unaccompanied minors and the formalization of a referral process for returnees requiring documentation (IDs, birth certificates and passports.)

IOM will also continue its information campaign using the local media to broadcast a radio soap opera, as well as IOM’s Creole-language comic, Chimen Lakay or The Way Home, to alert residents to the risks of irregular migration, as well as the loss of economic resources invested for the trip, which none of the potential migrants can afford.

The Chimen Lakay edition developed for this program presents the story of a Haitian man who boards a boat to migrate irregularly to the Bahamas but who, after the sinking of the boat and the death of most of its passengers, arrives at his destination, is detained and then deported back to Haiti.

The isolated North-Western region of Haiti is among the most impoverished in the country, regularly hit by destructive hurricanes and tropical storms, and a major area of irregular migration by boat to the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Cuba and the United States.

“The project has had a very positive economic impact in the targeted region and has contributed to a considerable reduction of irregular and dangerous departures by sea; 93 per cent of returnees have told IOM that if they could find a job or have access to more opportunities, they would never again risk their lives at sea,” explains IOM Programme Manager Drazan Rozic.

During the initial phase, also funded by PRM, the IOM assistance also included income-generation activities and support to local businesses, which benefited some 22,000 people in the target communities. In addition, over 4,900 returnees received direct assistance packages.

The second phase, carried out in 2012-2013, provided more than 800 returned migrants with assistance packages, and focused on enhancing the capacity of ONM’s mandate to directly support the return and reintegration of irregular migrants.

“Although the third phase will provide much needed direct assistance to returnees, a critical element, which is providing income generation support to these coastal communities, did not receive funding. IOM and its Government partners remain committed to addressing the root causes of irregular migration by supporting returnees to reintegrate into their communities, but without funding for these activities residents will continue to risk their lives at sea in hopes of finding better opportunities for their families,” says Rozic.

For more information, please contact Drazan Rozic at IOM Haiti, Email: drozic@iom.int - Tel: +509 37 01 52 53