Diaspora

Haitians fleeing deadly conflict are turned away by the US – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International

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Médecins Sans Frontières brings medical humanitarian assistance to victims of conflict, natural disasters, epidemics or healthcare exclusion.
Learn about how, why, and where MSF teams respond to different diseases around the world, and the challenges we face in providing treatment.
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In more than 70 countries, Médecins Sans Frontières provides medical humanitarian assistance to save lives and ease the suffering of people in crisis situations.
Our staff “own” and manage MSF, making sure that we stay true to our mission and principles, through the MSF Associations.
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Based in Paris, CRASH conducts and directs studies and analysis of MSF actions. They participate in internal training sessions and assessment missions in the field.
Based in Geneva, UREPH (or Research Unit) aims to improve the way MSF projects are implemented in the field and to participate in critical thinking on humanitarian and medical action.
Based in Barcelona, ARHP documents and reflects on the operational challenges and dilemmas faced by the MSF field teams.
Based in Brussels, MSF Analysis intends to stimulate reflection and debate on humanitarian topics organised around the themes of migration, refugees, aid access, health policy and the environment in which aid operates.
This logistical and supply centre in Brussels provides storage of and delivers medical equipment, logistics and drugs for international purchases for MSF missions.
This supply and logistics centre in Bordeaux, France, provides warehousing and delivery of medical equipment, logistics and drugs for international purchases for MSF missions.
This logistical centre in Amsterdam purchases, tests, and stores equipment including vehicles, communications material, power supplies, water-processing facilities and nutritional supplements.
SAMU provides strategic, clinical and implementation support to various MSF projects with medical activities related to HIV and TB. This medical unit is based in Cape Town, South Africa.
Regional logistic centre for the whole East Africa region
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The Manson Unit is a London, UK-based team of medical specialists who provide medical and technical support, and conduct research for MSF.
Providing epidemiological expertise to underpin our operations, conducting research and training to support our goal of providing medical aid in areas where people are affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or excluded from health care.
Evaluation Units have been established in Vienna, Stockholm, and Paris, assessing the potential and limitations of medical humanitarian action, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of our medical humanitarian work.
The Luxembourg Operational Research (LuxOR) unit coordinates field research projects and operational research training, and provides support for documentation activities and routine data collection.
The Intersectional Benchmarking Unit collects and analyses data about local labour markets in all locations where MSF employs people.
To upskill and provide training to locally-hired MSF staff in several countries, MSF has created the MSF Academy for Healthcare.
This Guide explains the terms, concepts, and rules of humanitarian law in accessible and reader-friendly alphabetical entries.
The MSF Paediatric Days is an event for paediatric field staff, policy makers and academia to exchange ideas, align efforts, inspire and share frontline research to advance urgent paediatric issues of direct concern for the humanitarian field.
The MSF Foundation aims to create a fertile arena for logistics and medical knowledge-sharing to meet the needs of MSF and the humanitarian sector as a whole.
A collaborative, patients’ needs-driven, non-profit drug research and development organisation that is developing new treatments for neglected diseases, founded in 2003 by seven organisations from around the world.
Haitians seeking asylum in the United States (US) continue to be at risk of being expelled and sent back to a country in crisis. Haiti‘s capital, Port-au-Prince, has become a battleground between armed groups – thousands of people have fled their homes and many have extremely limited access to healthcare or basic services.

More than 26,000 Haitians were expelled from the US between September 2021 and June 2022. In May alone, the US government expelled nearly 4,000 Haitians.
Most Haitians have been expelled under Title 42.A health order invoked at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that allows for the blocking and rapid expulsion of migrants, including people seeking protection at the US border. This devastating policy has effectively shut down asylum at the US southern border and has been used to authorise over two million expulsions from the US.
While deportation flights to Haiti have been paused since June, without a change in US policy, Haitians who arrive at the US border could still be expelled to what has effectively become a conflict zone, as armed groups have taken over large areas of the capital.
More than half of the patients arriving at the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Tabarre, Port-au-Prince, have suffered life-threatening wounds, often from high-powered firearms. Armed clashes in two neighbourhoods, Martissant and Cité Soleil, forced our teams to move longstanding medical programmes in 2021. 

The United Nations has documented a sharp increase in violence this year,United Nations data on violence in Haiti https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/07/1122662 with 934 killings, 684 injuries and 680 kidnappings in Port-au-Prince from January to the end of June. Many people who have fled the violence are living in informal displacement sites within the city in appalling conditions. 
In recent months, armed clashes have again destroyed water networks and disrupted water truck deliveries in Bel Air and other neighbourhoods. Our teams are adapting to the current rise in violence and insecurity, operating mobile medical teams and providing water and sanitation facilities.

“We see an increase in kidnappings and killings and people telling us they don’t feel safe in their homes, and it’s not safe to leave the house either,” says Cédric Chapon, project coordinator for MSF’s urban violence programme in Port-au-Prince. 

“Since the beginning of the year, we have seen an epidemic of scabies, which is not usual in Haiti. And this is directly linked to the lack of water. People can afford small quantities of drinking water, but they can’t access clean water in quantities needed for hygiene.” 

The situation is also dangerous for MSF staff, some of whom are trapped by the violence, unable to leave their homes to come to work. In some areas, MSF staff must work in basements and windowless rooms to avoid the risk of stray bullets.
Our teams also provide medical and mental health care along the migration route in the Americas, where for the past several years our teams have seen an increasing number of Haitians trying to reach the US.

Haitian migrants often have family and support networks in the US, but Title 42 forces them to take increasingly hazardous routes to get there, from South America through the extremely dangerous Darién jungle in Panama. From April 2021 to early May 2022, MSF teams working in Panama with patients who had crossed the Darién jungle treated 417 women for sexual violence. 

The border between Mexico and the US is the final leg of their journey. In border cities such as Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa, they join other migrants who are also waiting to cross, in many cases to seek asylum in the US. 

Migrants are often forced to sleep on the street, in abandoned structures, or in makeshift camps. Access to healthcare, food and basic services is limited and these cities are extremely dangerous, particularly for migrants, who are vulnerable to violence, including kidnapping and sexual assault. 
Antogama Honoraí, 23, left Haiti for Brazil in 2019, but there wasn’t work for him there. So he set out for the US, traversing Colombia and Central America before reaching Mexico, where he has stayed for five months so far.
“I’m here because I want to go to the US and help my family,” he says. “In the US I have family. Here I’m alone. Here there’s nowhere to sleep. Yesterday it rained all day and I slept in dirty water. I don’t want to go back to Haiti. There’s no school there, there’s no food there, there’s no work…. Returning to Haiti means death.” 
“In that jungle you will die if you don’t have a good strategy,” says Louckensia Paul, 28, recalling her journey through the Darién jungle in Panama. “It’s a dangerous place. There are wild animals and routes that are not accessible and difficult crossings. There’s a point where you run out of food and you have to use all your strength to try to get out of there.” 
Louckensia was interviewed in Nuevo Laredo in May, attempting to reach the US a second time. In December 2021, after traversing nine countries and risking her life crossing the Darién jungle, she reached the US, spent seven days in US detention and was quickly expelled back to Haiti. 
“In Texas, I was put on a bus in chains – around my waist, on my ankles and hands,” she says. “I thought about the entire trip, and the sacrifices I made, for them to do that to me and treat me like a criminal.”
MSF has repeatedly called for an end to Title 42 and an end to expulsion flights to Haiti on humanitarian grounds. Haiti is in the middle of a humanitarian, economic and political crisis. No country should be sending people back to Haiti. The US must permanently end all deportation flights and further facilitate access to asylum processes for Haitians.
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