Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Dominican Republic’s discrimination against Haitians

From the Washington Post

HAITI AND the Dominican Republic, uneasy neighbors on the sun-baked island of Hispaniola, share a tangled and contentious history, by turns violent, cooperative and exploitative. That is the background, though hardly an excuse, for an unconscionable decision by the highest Dominican court that strips at least 200,000 ethnic Haitian migrants of any claim to citizenship, including those born on Dominican soil decades ago.

The court’s decision enshrines the deep-seated racism and discrimination suffered by Haitian migrants and their children, who have worked back-breaking jobs in Dominican sugar-cane fields and construction sites for many years. It leaves the migrants stateless, lacking even the certainty that their children can receive an education.

Compounding this injustice, the court ordered the authorities to comb through birth records, back to 1929, to weed out ethnic Haitians no longer entitled to citizenship. Tens of thousands will be left in legal limbo, including those who have never set foot in Haiti and speak no Creole, Haiti’s main language.

The Dominican economy, much like that of the United States, depends on migrant labor to fill jobs at the bottom of the wage scale. And much like the United States’ political class, Dominican authorities have balked at extending fair treatment and equal status to those migrants.For many years, the children of Haitian laborers born on Dominican soil were denied official documents on the grounds that their parents were “in transit” — even if they’d been working in the country for decades. A constitutional amendment in 2010 codified that systemic discrimination, and the court decision, handed down last month, set the rule in stone — and applied it retroactively. The court gave officials one year to draw up a list of residents to be excluded from or stripped of citizenship.

The implications of the court’s xenophobic ruling are disastrous. Ethnic Haitians — as well as the Dominican-born children of immigrants from Europe, China and elsewhere — may no longer be entitled to subsidized tuition, public health insurance or other benefits.

As in the United States, mass deportation of immigrants on whom the economy relies is not a viable option for the Dominican Republic.The Dominican president, Danilo Medina, acknowledged that the decision had created “a human problem that we have to solve.”U.S. officials should press the issue through diplomatic channels with their Dominican counterparts. By ignoring the plight of ethnic Haitians, the international community would only compound an injustice.

What are your thoughts on the deportation of Dominicans of Haitian Origin?

Typhoon Haiyan’s displaced seek refuge in cities

From IRIN. 

Photo: Carmela Fonbuela/ IRIN:  IDPs recently arrived to Metro Manila following the Category 5 Super Typhoon Haiyan

MANILA, 3 December 2013 (IRIN) – Almost 20,000 typhoon survivors have arrived in the Philippine capital region of Manila since Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated a large area across the central island provinces nearly one month ago, displacing a total of four million people.

“We did not expect this massive devastation. We were not prepared. It would have been better if they [had been] evacuated to neighbouring provinces so it will be easier for them to return when the situation has normalized,” said Alice Bonoan, regional director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the National Capital Region.

“But many of them just took the free flights to Metro Manila offered by the military and took their chances… They just needed to escape the devastation and hunger,” Bonoan said.

Military cargo flights transporting relief goods from Manila to devastated areas offered to fill the empty return flights with survivors desperate to evacuate.

Hundreds of kilometres away from the typhoon’s epicentre, local governments in the capital region are scrambling to absorb the new arrivals in an urban area already stretched by its 12 million residents, including the country’s largest population of slum dwellers – about 200,000 households, according to 2010 estimates.

At the headquarters of the Philippine Air Force, aid workers and volunteers welcome an estimated 500 survivors arriving on cargo flights daily with hot meals and fresh sets of clothing. Lactating mothers line up to offer breastfeeding to survivors’ babies. Volunteer drivers transport those seeking shelter from relatives. The remaining displaced are housed DSWD shelters and “tent cities”.

Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) flattened swathes of homes and other structures, displacing some four million Filipinos, according to the government’s latest count. About 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are staying in evacuation centres while the remainder are seeking shelter in private homes.

Temporary Shelter

Gerardo Macenda, 37, from Guiuan in Eastern Samar, one of the most devastated cities in the typhoon’s path, set foot in Metro Manila with his family on 20 November. Without relatives in Manila to help them, they were taken to a DSWD facility in Mandaluyong city on the outskirts of the capital.

Macenda, his wife, and three children took the first C130 flight out of the province on 15 November, which took them first to Cebu and then to the capital region. “We needed to go away. I don’t want to see the devastation anymore. My children are traumatized. We had a simple but good life. We built a house and I owned a tricycle [to transport customers]. I earned enough for the family, but the typhoon took it all away,” Macenda told IRIN.

They are among the 134 displaced persons at this DSWD shelter, one of 1,031 temporary sites the agency has set up nationwide. The government is counting on the IDPs to return to their hometowns as soon as the situation normalizes, but the challenge will be to prepare for those who stay on, said Eric Esmas, a senior DSWD social welfare officer.

A number of private sector companies have made job offers, but many evacuees do not have the skills or education, or are the right age to fulfil the basic requirements. “Is he a worker or a farmer? We will then link them to the resources that are available,” Esmas said.

Off radar

While thousands of evacuees fled on military planes and have been formally registered by the government upon landing, unknown numbers of survivors are taking what are known as “roll-on roll-off” (Ro-Ro) inter-island transport vessels that carry busloads of people from affected islands to safer shores.

This group has hardly been reached by aid workers, much less included in the national database, according to the government. Other evacuees manage with their own resources and simply do not seek DSWD assistance, said the agency’s regional director, Bonoan.

“It’s the hard reality,” she acknowledged. “We cannot help them if we don’t know where they are. There are those who arrived in Metro Manila without going through DSWD. We cannot avoid that.”

The International Organization of Migration (IOM) began tracking evacuees on 17 November at their departure points to map migration flows as well as to learn what plans the unregistered IDPs have to survive financially at their destination.

Urban IDPs are often seen as “messy” beneficiaries who risk being “ignored”, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). “IDPs in urban environments are less photogenic and less visible than those in camps. The plight of urban IDPs therefore goes largely ignored by an international media flooded with other compelling images.”

A 2008 UNHCR study noted that “Effective protection is further limited by the fact that both host governments and donors are not generally keen on assisting IDPs in urban environments because many assume that those who make it to cities can support themselves.”

DSWD’s Bonoan said the government is managing for the moment because relatives and acquaintances have hosted most arriving IDPs, but an unknown number may not be receiving any help, and that DSWD “cannot help them forever”.


Solidarity Fast with Striking Detainees in Lindsay, ON Detention Center – Dec 14th

Solidarity Fast with Striking Detainees Dec 14th

(From :

In response to our call for a demonstration on the outside, immigration detainees in Lindsay will be initiating their own 24hr fast inside on December 14th, 2013. Because of this, we have called for a 24hr global solidarity fast to accompany the protest at Lindsay Jail. Please take a photograph of yourself if you are fasting in solidarity with those inside and send it to (And if you’re in Ontario.. GET ON THE BUS TO LINDSAY!)

Latest statements of solidarity.

DSC_0510Wife, mother and family friend of Clifford Adjei

DSC_0515Mohammed Mjasiri, father of Amin Mjasiri who was on hunger strike for 65 days.

IMG_7349Amee, Toronto

enddetention_dec14Victoria, Toronto

Hunger Strike 1Kitty, Toronto

Hunger Strike 2Brendan, Toronto