A group of 28 organizations working in the field of human rights and migration wrote an open letter to the Brazilian government asking the country to facilitate the issuance of humanitarian visas for Haitians as a matter of urgency, after the strong earthquake that shook the south of the country on the 14th, leaving more than 2,200 dead and 130,000 homes damaged.
In the document, institutions such as Conectas Human Rights, Missão Paz, Pastoral dos Migrantes and the Commission for the Rights of Immigrants and Refugees of the OAB / SP state that they have received several requests for support from affected people of this nationality. by disaster.
The letter was sent on the 25th and addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos França, and the Minister of Justice, Anderson Torres, and cites rights provided for in Brazilian law, such as family protection and humanitarian reception. Haitians.
Haitians are entitled to a special humanitarian welcome visa to Brazil, due to their particularly vulnerable situation since the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010, killing more than 200,000. Those already living in Brazil can also bring direct family members, who must obtain a family reunification visa through the same route.
Since the start of the pandemic, however, the bureaucratic procedures for issuing these documents have been paralyzed, explains Livia Lenci, legal coordinator of Missão Paz, one of the signatories of the letter. “In theory, the means of arrival exist, but in practice they are not available. There are thousands of people trying to access the procedure and thousands of separated families because they cannot even apply for a visa, ”he said.
As a report by Folha released on July 30 shows, Haitian immigrants go to court so that underage children and other family members can meet them in Brazil without the need for a visa. A chartered flight with 183 people on board has already arrived in the country after a judge accepted the request.
In the lawsuits, they argue that the process of obtaining the document – which should only be requested at the Brazilian embassy in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital – is fraught with pitfalls, including allegations according to which third parties charge bribes to enter diplomatic representation.
After the last earthquake, Brazil sent donations of emergency equipment and medicine to Haiti, along with 32 firefighters to help rescue the victims. “The Brazilian government is closely following the unfolding of the earthquake that struck Haiti and reaffirms its firm commitment to continue humanitarian aid to this country,” Itamaraty said in a statement after the earthquake.
The entities signing the open letter demand that the government’s response to the disaster include a “guarantee of urgent protection and logistical support for the family reunification of these immigrants in Brazil”, in addition to the immediate entry “of Haitians who want to rebuild their lives “.
They are also asking for the regularization of immigration for immigrants of this nationality who entered Brazil during the period of border closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a guarantee already granted to Venezuelans. The government did not respond to the document.
The earthquake, of magnitude 7.2, was recorded at 8:29 a.m. local time (9:29 a.m. EDT) on Saturday (14), with an epicenter in the southwest of the island, 160 km from the Haitian capital, Port-au- Prince. Ten minutes later, there was a 5.2 magnitude aftershock.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has declared a state of emergency, and PAHO, the branch of the World Health Organization in the Americas, has said the country is facing a “particularly serious situation” and has asked for help from the international community.