Haitians forced from Dominican Republic recall racism, abuse
Desir, a Haitian woman, had lived for 10 years in the Dominican Republic, but immigration officers arrested her a week ago and sent her to the border, along with her Dominican-born baby.
Since June 17, when a registration program for undocumented migrants ran out in the Dominican Republic, more than 17,000 people have poured across the border into Haiti, although the Dominicans insist those who have left did so voluntarily.
"They told me: 'Go back to your country. Go find President Michel Martelly, we have no more need for Haitians. Whether you have papers or not, go home'," she said.
She was detained in the city of Neyba where she worked, and didn't have time to tell her husband, who works only 50 meters (55 yards) away.
"I have 3 children, but the two biggest are with their father. They are 5 and 6. How can they understand I am no longer with them?" she asked, with tears welling up in her eyes.
Disoriented, she said she can hardly sleep.
"It's been 6 days since I have seen my children and husband. He does not even know I'm here in Haiti. I couldn't even speak with him because he doesn't have a telephone," she said.
'Dominicans of a different blood'
Repeating just one of the racist insults she suffered during the journey to the border, she said authorities told her "that Dominicans are of a different blood, and that I should go and find my blood in Haiti."
Beside her is Rose Hippolyte, who has suffered the same discrimination.
"When they see a Haitian, the Dominicans say 'Look at that pig, that Haitian devil'," said Hippolyte, whose face is worn by years of work in the sugarcane fields.
"They treat us like animals. Sometimes, when you sit next to a Dominican, the person will move away so that you understand that he doesn't want your skin to touch his," she said.
In halting Creole – the result of having spent only the first 4 years of his life in Haiti – Francky Dorseli confirmed the abuse.
"The Dominicans mistreat the Haitians. They insult us each day, even sometimes the police."
The 43-year-old, who was deported alone, has had no news from his wife and 4 children.
Just like Desir, Dorseli and all the others who have taken refuge in the community school in the small town of Fond Parisien, Hippolyte wasn't allowed to bring anything with her from home.
"I've worked since 1981 cutting sugarcane. I haven't earned much but I have managed to build myself a small home," said the 52-year-old, who arrived in the Dominican Republic at age eight.
"Everything remains there, I have nothing left. The pastor's wife gave me this dress to change into," she said, smoothing the fabric over her thighs.
Barrage of insults
The meager donations from the religious community and sporadic distributions from NGOs and ordinary citizens are not enough to provide the refugees with decent living conditions.
Dressed in dirty clothes that are often too large, several dozen children play jacks using pebbles. They gathered on a concrete slab under the absent-minded gaze of the tired women.
There is no water and no electricity. For two weeks, no doctor has passed through to see the families.
Nonetheless, not one of the refugees wants to return to the Dominican Republic to face a barrage of insults and attacks. Living again in their original country, they hope to be able to bring their families to Haiti and live without depending on charity.
"I was a supervisor in a textile factory and also a supermarket cashier," Desir said.
"I do not want money or food but a job to be able to bring my children and my husband here so we can live together peacefully," she said. – Rappler.com