PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD – The United Nations (UN) voiced deep concern Tuesday at the United States mass deportation of Haitian migrants, warning that people with serious asylum claims may be at considerable risk and had the right to seek asylum.
‘We are disturbed by the images that we have seen and by all these migrants and refugees and asylum-seekers in transport to Port-au-Prince,’ UN spokeswoman Marta Hurtado.
“We are seriously concerned by the fact that it appears that there has not been any individual assessment in the (Haiti) cases,” she added.
This, she said, indicated that “maybe some of these people have not received the protection that they needed”.
Shabia Mantoo, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, stressed that seeking asylum is “a fundamental human right, we are calling for this right to be respected.”
Their official comments came after social media images that appear to show border agents on horseback driving migrants back to a river like cattle have sparked an investigation in the United States. The pictures widely shared on social media show riders using their reins against the migrants and pushing them back towards the Rio Grande in Texas.
Washington instantly began sending plane-loads full of Haitian nationals back to their country on Sunday and Monday, under an order issued in March 2020 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which cited the need to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Marleine Bastien, a Haitian community and immigration activist in Miami, said “it is cruel and inhumane for the Biden administration to be deporting Haitian refugees at this time to Haiti.” She also said she was “deeply concerned with the United States treatment of Haitian refugees who are fleeing credible threat and violence in Haiti “and returning them without a chance to make a case for asylum in the U.S.
“This humanitarian crisis is a result of years of failed U.S. foreign policies visa-vis Haitian that supported incompetent and alleged corrupt leaders ruling by decree and tainted by corruption scandals while ignoring the voices of civil society leaders,” Bastien said.
Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas says his department will carefully investigate reports of the alleged abuse.