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World Vision calls to ensure rights of children during deportations

©2015 Juan Pablo Ramirez/World Vision

©2015 Juan Pablo Ramirez/World Vision

by Naivi Frias (World Vision Dominican Republic) and Jean-Wickens Merone (World Vision Haiti)

Given the deportation process that is soon to be launched for those living in Dominican Republic who have either not applied or qualified for the National Plan of Regularization of foreigners, World Vision, in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, calls both governments to take the necessary actions to avoid a humanitarian crisis by protecting the rights of children and adolescents at risk of being deported. The National Plan of Regularization for Foreigners was implemented by the Dominican government in June 2014, in order to legalize the immigration status of undocumented foreigners living in the country. The Plan ended on Wednesday June 17, 2015, with a total of 288,466 foreigners of 23 nationalities (mostly Haitians) registered. Of this, only 4,600 were able to complete all the of the plan requirements.

World Vision Dominican Republic and Haiti are asking that children remain with their families, preventing the deportation of adults without their children and moving children transported collectively with strangers and stranded on the border.

Also they are concerned about the possibility of undocumented Dominican children and adolescents being deported because of their facial features and skin colour.

“If children and adolescents lack a birth registration or a document stating their migratory condition, the agents of the National Migration Directory, the National Army or the Specialized Border Security Agency (CESFRONT) will not be able to discern their place of birth. This situation will put them at risk of being deported to a country where they may not have relatives to accompany them and ensure their protection,” said David Coates, National Director of World Vision in Dominican Republic.

“The imminent deportation of Haitians from the Dominican Republic would put tens of thousands of children at extreme risk of separation from their families and communities, leaving them vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and malnutrition. World Vision calls upon both the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic to ensure children are not separated from their families. In addition, we are urging both governments to work together to make sure children are provided with adequate services following international human rights standards outlined in 1948 Human Rights Declaration while their applications for citizenship are being considered. It is crucial that this process does not result in indefinite displacement for these children,” stated John Hasse, Director of World Vision in Haiti.

In Dominican Republic there are 524,632 living foreigners, according to the First National Survey of Immigrants (ENI-2012), endorsed by the National Bureau of Statistics. Of that total, 458,233 people were born in Haiti, accounting for 87.3 per cent of the immigrant population, while 66,399 people, 12.7 per cent are from other countries which reveals the predominance of Haitian immigrants and increased vulnerability to children of this population.

©2015 Juan Pablo Ramirez/World Vision

©2015 Juan Pablo Ramirez/World Vision

Recommendations:

– Implement the Memorandum of Understanding Mechanisms of repatriation, signed by Dominican Republic and Haiti in 1999, supplemented by special guidelines that provide greater guarantees for the protection of children consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by both countries.

– Ensure respect for the dignity of children in the five centers, which the Dominican government has set as the first point of arrival for verification of the immigration status of people before their final deportation.

– Continue the process of dialogue, involving representatives of civil society of the two countries. It is also important to consider that the time allowed for people enrolled to complete their dossiers, without being deported is guaranteed.

– Guarantee access to clean water and the fundamental rights, such as food, health, education and adequate facilities for children recreation and sanitation facilities and ensure protection against physical, verbal or sexual assault during this process.

-Provide psycho-emotional support to children and their families in the process of regularization and deportation.

– Guarantee the right to citizenship to children born in the Dominican Republic or who immigrated with their parents whom existence does not appear in any official records, to avoid the risk of statelessness.

During a press conference at the headquarters of World Vision, in Dominican Republic, the organization has committed to work with families and governments in order to make sure that the rights of children are guaranteed during this process.

What you can do:

Raise your voice and join World Vision’s international efforts in advocating for the health and well-being of children and mothers by raising public awareness, making recommendations for policy changes and media outreach. Join a Circle focused on Advocating for Children today!

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