UN urges countries to extend permits for Haitians

GENEVA, (Reuters) – The United Nations urged all  governments yesterday to refrain from sending back Haitians to  their country, which is still reeling from an earthquake 18  months ago.

The joint appeal by the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR and U.N.  human rights office followed reports of countries including the  Bahamas, Jamaica, Brazil and the United States deporting  Haitians, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing.

Many people still live in dire conditions in Haiti, where an  estimated 680,000 quake survivors are staying in 1,000 tented  camps in Port-au-Prince and other stricken areas, he said. The  quake killed more than 300,000 people and initially left more  than 1.5 million homeless.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres and  U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay urged governments to renew  permission for Haitians to remain in their countries on  humanitarian grounds.

“This appeal would include those Haitians evacuated in the  aftermath of the earthquake, those who were stranded outside  Haiti at the time of the earthquake, as well as their close  family members under the principle of family reunification,”  they said in a joint letter to governments made public.

There were “serious concerns over existing protection gaps  and the unmet basic humanitarian needs”.

Unaccompanied minors, the disabled or others needing medical  care, as well as Haitian victims of human trafficking or sexual  abuse were at greatest risk if sent home now, they said.

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