UN calls for countries in the Americas to refrain from deporting Haitians, Belize not following suit
The United Nations is calling on countries in the Americas to refrain from the deportation of Haitian migrants, but Belize is not following suit. In recent months, there has been an influx of Haitian nationals arriving in the country as Haiti continues to face many challenges, including political instability, economic hardship, and rampant gang violence. The migrants are believed to be using Belize as a transit to the United Stations which led to GOB implementing new regulations to halt the migration issue. Minister of Human Development and Families, Dolores Balderamos Garcia, says while the government is cognizant of the hardships being faced by the migrants, it would be irresponsible to have them remain in the country.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs: “We feel deeply for the extreme difficulty that the country of Haiti is in and our hearts go out to a country where the people really don’t even have a proper government and as part of CARICOM we do have that reaching out in terms of how we feel. Now it’s a complex issue in terms of the Haitians because we find that the Haitians I mean may of them were coming on these flights and the airlines they don’t care if they’re filling the flights they want to make money but if Haitians are victims of trafficking because of the tens of thousands of dollars they’re paying to be moved from one area to the next if they are actual victims then I don’t think that we should participate in that because clearly the end goal for them is not to remain in Belize it’s to go on to the mighty United States. So where we are very cognizant and where our hearts go out to the difficulty of the Haitian people I don’t believe that as a responsible government we should be going towards allowing Haitians to use Belize as a transit country to go up north because we see what the objective of the traffickers is and really the needs of the people in wanting that better life. So really that is the only way I can respond to that at this time.”
Minister Balderamos Garcia went on to further explain that a significant number of Haitian migrants arriving in the country are believed to be victims of human smuggling. She says that it is important to ensure the government does not condone any acts of human trafficking or smuggling.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs: “A week or two ago drew the fine line between smuggling and trafficking. Smuggling is really the financial transaction to move someone from one area to the other but where there is any element of exploitation that’s where the human trafficking comes in and I’m afraid that in the Haitians, the Jamaicans, Brazilians, people wanting to come into the country there is an element of exploitation nad therefore human trafficking and again being a responsible government we have to make sure that we don’t participate in that. I know that the Ministry of Immigration has been monitoring the activities at the airport very closely and like I say if it looks like what they say ? If it walks that way, if it looks that way then it must be that ? I believe that there are elements of human trafficking here that Belize must not participate in as much as we have feeling for our CARICOM brothers and sisters from Haiti. I believe there are a few Haitians now who have made a habeas corpus application to the court that our government is involved in right now but clearly you all will go and do your journalistic work where that is concerned today. But really if we are requiring visas from Haitians to come to Belize it really is to participate in holding down the human trafficking and not allowing Belize to be used as a transit point for desperate people trying to get to North America.”