North America

U.S. expulsions of Haitian migrants leaves U.N. 'concerned'

Published : September 22, 2021 13:26 IST

Haitians who were deported from the United States arrived at Haiti's international airport on September 19. Photo: Joseph Odelyn/AP Photo/picture alliance

The U.N. refugee agency suggested the U.S. may not be carefully examining asylum claims before carrying out expulsions to Haiti.

The U.N.'s refugee agency on September 21 said it was "seriously concerned" by recent U.S. expulsions to Haiti, adding that its initial observations suggested there have not been any individual assessments of asylum cases. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said asylum seekers' expressed fears of persecution in their homeland need to be assessed before they can be deported.

More than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants have been removed from an encampment at a Texas border town, according to U.S. officials. The U.S. is expelling migrants under an order issued in March last year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which cited the need to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Images of expulsions 'disturbing'

People massed along the U.S.-Mexican border may have a right to asylum if their fears are legitimate, the U.N. agency said. "We reiterate that while some people arriving at the border may not be refugees, anyone who does have a claim, who claims to have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their country of origin, they should have access to asylum and to have their claim assessed before being subjected to explusion or deporation," U.N. refugee agency spokesperson Shabia Mantoo was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Marta Hurtado, U.N. human rights spokesperson, told the same Geneva news briefing: "We are disturbed by the images that we have seen and by the fact that we have seen all these migrants and refugees and asylum-seekers in transport to Port-au-Prince." Hurtado said UNHCR is "seriously concerned by the fact that it appears there have not been any individual assessments of the cases."

go/rt (Reuters, AP)