The AFSC statement below can also be found at the following address: http://www.afsc.org/latinamerica/int/haiti-action.htm
Please distribute widely.
Haiti Action Statement
JUST AND REASONED ACTION NEEDED:
STOPPING DEPORTATIONS TO HAITI
CONTINUED SOCIAL UNREST PLACES LIVES IN PERIL
</center>Haiti's ongoing political crisis and deepening human rights catastrophe leads the American Friends Service Committee to call upon the Bush Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to respond with due diligence and designate Haiti for Temporary Protective Status (TPS).
TPS is both a moral as well as a practical measure, whose judicious application is in the best traditi
on of citizen compassion toward those seeking refuge from civil strife or natural disaster. Granting TPS would contribute to some lessening of pressures in Haiti and to heightened chances for restoration of rule of law, democratic governance, and improved social and economic conditions.
The United States has been a major actor in Haiti for more than 200 years, engaging in the very worst of discrimination, intervention, violence and exploitation, as well as very positive and life-giving actions at times. AFSC believes the USA has a moral obligation to take a more positive, constructive and generous posture toward Haitians in Haiti and outside of Haiti in the future. More than 400,000 Haitians are now a part of this country, enriching our lives with their culture, skills and optimism. The United States could play a central role in this important election year in calling on the international community to participate in concrete and long-term efforts that help Haitians rebuild their institutions, incl
uding their social, economic, health and educational infrastructures, and also move them towards national reconciliation, self-determination and an integrated post-conflict peace process.
Fleeing Despair: From Pessimism to Progress
Endemic crisis in Haiti, natural disasters, civil conflict and periods of repression under dictatorships, wide economic inequality and lack of opportunity has led to large and intermittent internal displacement from rural to urban areas, and to flows of migrants and refugees to the Dominican Republic, to the United States and to many other countries. At times like the present the pressures are enormous on Haitians and their families, and the fear of violence and repression is very real for many in that country. Forcing those who seek refuge abroad to return under these conditions puts their lives at risk, and adds to the burdens of those who have remained in Haiti.
The Global Community Role
If a new
era of stability, respect for human rights and Haitian-led efforts toward an authentic democracy is to have any chance of success, then the concerned nations of the world must be more engaged in the situation of Haiti, must have staying power, and must dedicate significant resources to that challenging set of tasks. It will not be easy, and Haitian and international civil society and faith-based groups must also commit themselves to be more effective in their work and more collaborative with the international community. Haitians in Diaspora are also called on to lend their moral and political support along with their talents and resources to the effort to bring peaceful change and progress to Haiti.
Toward a Rational Solution
The Republic of Haiti's history is one mired in multiple invasions and the subsequent exploitation of its population and its land. Sadly, today's Haiti is embroiled in a struggle for survival; a myriad of social, economic and political reali
ties hamper Haiti's ability to overcome poverty and oppression. Haiti's citizens and concerned Haitians in the Diaspora confront grave obstacles which include: political paralysis, absence of the rule of law and climate of impunity, police complicity in violence or kidnapping and harassment, proliferation of small arms, and a large external debt.
Moreover, key health, economic, and social indicators reflect a nation grappling with desperate conditions that portend a long-term harmful impact on the island's future generations. For example, the population's poverty rate is 80% with 76% of Haitians living on less than $2 a day. UNICEF points to the 1.2 million children who have stopped going to school or who lack medical attention, food or shelter due to the increased conflict and violence. Other troubling data reflect the precarious existence of the island's next generation: over 2,000 children live in the streets of Port-au-Prince; and the number of child rapes increased significantly in the urban
areas where violence was the most extreme.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has had a long-term engagement with the people of Haiti, both in assistance with community empowerment, health and development in Haitian communities, as well as in support of the Haitian Diaspora (more information at http://www.afsc.org/miami and http://www.afsc.org/haiti ). This work is of long standing and grows out of a commitment to peace and justice rooted in Quaker values and practices. With regard to Haiti and Haitians, AFSC speaks from direct experience and understanding of the strengths and resilience of Haitians and of their families and communities, as well as the dire and increasingly life-threatening circumstances in which they live.
“Table 1. Ten states with the largest foreign-born populations from Haiti, 2000
Area / Number / Percent
United States / 419,317 / 100.0
Florida / 182,224 / 43.5
New York / 125,475 / 29.9
Massachusetts / 33,862 / 8.1
New Jersey / 31,963 / 7.6
Connecticut / 7,902 / 1.9
Maryland / 5,367 / 1.3
Pennsylvania / 4,977 / 1.2
Georgia / 4,909 / 1.2
Illinois / 4,358 / 1.0
California / 3,006 / 0.7
Source: US Census Bureau, Census 2000
Table as appears on Migration Information Source website. “Spotlight on Haitians in the USA.” April 1, 2004.
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