The Caribbean country is experiencing one of the most critical situations on the continent, which is why thousands of people are looking for a better destination in the United States, although they are increasingly requesting refuge in Mexico.
In Haiti, everything that could have gone wrong, has. This country, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, has suffered natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes, an assassination, fuel shortages and a crisis of violence that has paralyzed it.
Faced with this situation, which is only getting worse, thousands of Haitian citizens have decided to leave their country, despite the risks that this entails. Many of them are destined for the United States, but more and more migrants are choosing Mexico as the place to start over.
During the last year they have already surpassed people from Honduras as the largest asylum seekers in Mexico.
What is the situation like in Haiti?
Haiti is experiencing a unique political crisis in the region. Following the assassination of President Juvenel Moise in July 2021, Prime Minister Ariel Henry maintains a provisional government. He has failed to call elections to replace Moise and Congress, whose official term ended in April of this year. No elections have been held since 2016.
Added to this institutional crisis is the blow of constant natural phenomena. Haiti has not been able to recover from the earthquake of January 12, 2010, which caused the death of 200,000 people and left more than one and a half million homeless. Hurricanes and tropical storms also cause constant problems. This also led to outbreaks of cholera and other infectious diseases, as well as malnutrition.
The economy is disjointed, so the possibilities of having a job and schooling are very low. Many schools and universities are closed.
The number of crimes perpetrated by armed gangs that sow terror and chaos in Haiti reached new records, denounced the representative of the UN Secretary General for the Caribbean country in the Security Council on October 23.
“Unfortunately, the security situation on the ground continues to deteriorate, as increasing gang violence has thrown the lives of Haitians into chaos and major crimes are rising sharply to new all-time highs,” said the Ecuadorian María Isabel Salvador, who hopes that sending an international intervention force will improve security.
According to the UN Secretary General’s report on Haiti, “major infractions, including voluntary homicides and kidnappings, recorded an unprecedented increase, mainly in the Western departments and Artibonito.”
Between July 1 and September 30, the national police recorded 1,239 homicides, compared to 577 in the same period in 2022. And from July to September, 701 people – including 221 women, eight girls and 18 boys – were kidnapped , which represents an increase of 244% compared to the same period last year.
The UN is also concerned about the deaths perpetrated by self-defense groups that emerged last spring: “388 people were lynched between April 24 and September 30 due to their alleged membership in” armed gangs, according to the report.
Faced with this situation, the Security Council gave its green light in early October for the deployment of a multinational mission under the command of Kenya and outside the UN, to help the Haitian police.
According to a survey conducted by Save The Children, seven out of every 10 Haitians in Mexico mention the general security of the country as their reason for leaving.
Where do Haitian migrants come from?
Haitians in Mexico do not usually come directly from the Caribbean island, but from other countries, a phenomenon known as “re-migration,” according to a study by the organization Save The Children.
“Which implies migrating periodically, sometimes staying for months or years in a location and later returning to their path,” the study indicates.
The majority of mobile people of Haitian origin who cross through Mexico were settled months or years before in Brazil, Chile or the Dominican Republic. In this last country they have been expelled outright.
In the cases of Brazil and Chile, the economic crisis due to the covid-19 pandemic, the increase in racism, and the entry to power of Democrat Joe Biden in the United States, who seemed to be more favorable to migration than his predecessor, Donald Trump, were factors that thousands of Haitians took to embark on the path north from 2021.
Where they are going?
The majority of the 600 Haitian citizens in Mexico consulted by Save The Children, 58%, have the United States as their final destination.
For 23%, Mexico is a good option to settle, although the majority do not know which authorities they should contact to regularize their situation in the country.
Canada is a less attractive option, since only 2% of Haitians consider moving to this country.
However, 17% of people still do not know which destination country is best for them.
79% of those surveyed have only basic education. 5% do not have any schooling.
94% of those surveyed do not have a job. Of the 6% that only have, more than two thirds are informal. More than half do not have a regular income. They live off remittances, their savings and the sale of some products.
Where they live?
Almost half, 46%, reported that their current housing is precarious accommodation, a group that includes those who said they live directly on the street, 5.3% of the total, and also those who said they live in non-formal temporary camps, 1.3% of the total.
What is your immigration situation like?
Between January and September 2023, one in three refugee applicants in Mexico are of Haitian origin, according to information from the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees (COMAR).
The requested people of Haitian origin in the last two years are 105,754, more than the 92,000 Honduran people and the 38,000 Cuban people who requested refuge in the same period.
COMAR only resolved 10.8% of the applications submitted in 2021 by Haitians, but only granted refuge in 2.47% of cases. If you look at nationality, the case is contrary to what happens with those from Honduras, in which the positive response reaches 90%.