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US should suspend expulsion flights to Haiti

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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. At the same time, Haiti 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.

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.