MA Haitian-led groups call for end to deportations as terror grips island

Three young Haitian girls are standing together outdoors with blurred greenery in the background. The girl on the left has short, curly hair with a pink clip and is wearing a plaid dress. The girl in the middle, who is the tallest, has longer, curly hair and is wearing a red patterned dress. The girl on the right has her hair styled in small braids and is wearing a blue plaid dress; she is smiling and touching her hair with one hand. They all have a calm and serene expression, and the natural light highlights their faces.

The United Nations reported security threats in Haiti have forced the closure of some 900 schools, depriving approximately 200,000 children of their right to education; photo by Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Haitian-led groups in Massachusetts are calling for a temporary pause in deportations as political instability and violence engulf the island.

They said anything less would be a death sentence. Armed gangs now control most of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, cutting distribution of medical and food supplies.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. said the U.S. must help restore security and save lives.

“Stabilizing Haiti is not just the right thing to do,” Pressley stated. “It is essential to addressing the migrant and asylum-seeking crisis here at home.”

Massachusetts has one of the largest Haitian diasporas in the country, and Haitians now make up the vast majority of asylum-seekers currently residing in the state’s shelter system.

The United Nations reports nearly 400,000 Haitians have been displaced by the recent violence, with many seeking shelter in public buildings. Heavily-armed groups set fire to more than 20 school classrooms in the capital last month and are recruiting children.

Guerline Jozef, executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said American-made weapons are fueling the crisis.

“Haiti does not produce arms, does not produce ammunition,” Jozef pointed out. “All of those are coming from the outside.”

Aid groups say weapons are often hidden among donations in shipping containers traveling from U.S. ports. Jozef, along with other Haitian-led groups, is asking House Republicans to unblock $40 million in requested State Department funding for an international security force to help restore order and safe routes for relief groups to operate.

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