There has been an upsurge in the number of middle and upper-class Haitians thronging Dominican consulates to seek visas to eventually settle in the neighboring Caribbean nation, Dominican Today reported.
The development was confirmed to the news outlet by a Dominican diplomatic source in the Haitian city of Cap Haitien.
The rise in the number of visa applications is said to stem from the current insecurity and economic woes in Haiti. For about half a century, the Caribbean nation has struggled to overcome the problems of poverty and inequality. And to make matters worse, the country has also been ravaged by multiple deadly earthquakes.
The situation has further exacerbated in recent times as there has been a very significant rise in gang activity. Various gangs have taken control of neighborhoods in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Cap Haitien as well as other areas.
George Bazin, a Haitian national currently in the Dominican Republic, told the news outlet he closed his business and left his home country to escape the insecurity. “They gave it to us for six months and we have been here for two and a half months now; we like this country very much and we don’t want to go back,” Bazin said.
While in Haiti, Bazin said that though they weren’t kidnapped, a gang looted a chocolate factory he and his wife were running. “Why live in Haiti, if there is no security for anyone or anything, and these kidnappings have people scared,” Bazin said, adding that he hopes to enter the chocolate industry in the Dominican Republic.
A report last month by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti stated the Caribbean nation’s National Police received at least 328 kidnapping reports between January and August, New York Post reported. 234 kidnapping cases were reported in 2020.
Another Haitian nurse who graduated from the Dominican Republic’s Technological University of Santiago (UTESA) also said she decided to relocate to the neighboring country with her family after her mother was almost kidnapped. The nurse, Dianny Bisoneaux, had initially moved back to Cap Haitien where she was working at a public hospital.
Jenfrey Dubreiul, a Haitian activist, told Dominican Today the current situation in the country is “regrettable.” “They kidnap you even to take a bicycle; vehicles are taken from people by force and then they have to buy them at the price the gang members say,” he said. “Haiti is unlivable right now, more will continue to arrive in this country, be prepared, that will be the case.”
A report by the National Commission for Disarmament, Dismantlement, and Reintegration stated there are currently over 76 gangs in Haiti and over 500,000 illegal weapons in the country.