Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dominican Republic key in Haiti relief

The Dominican Republic was spared much of the death and destruction of its earthquake-damaged neighbor Haiti and, thus, has served as a key conduit for relief efforts. Indeed, the country on the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola was amongst the first to send aid including “10 mobile cafeterias capable of serving 100,000 meals a day, heavy debris-removing equipment, and medicine.” Furthermore, some reporters from around the world that have converged in Haiti have resorted to traveling via unsafe and iffy means from the Dominican Republic.

Though the aid to Haiti from its neighbor has reportedly eased tensions between both countries, a source of friction may arise with the hundreds of displaced Haitians seeking to cross the border. Before the tremors Dominican authorities said that they would strengthen their efforts to prevent Haitians from illegally crossing. Clashes in the border area occur occasionally and there’s the worry that it could escalate in the aftermath of the earthquake:
Media sources in the Dominican Republic are reporting that thousands of Haitians are trying to cross into the Dominican Republic, the Spanish-speaking nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with its sister republic. Haitians are trying to cross the frontier into the Dominican Republic to purchase food, fuel, water, and candles. The electric system in Haiti has collapsed and Haitians are contending with pitch black darkness, along with the lack of adequate medical care.

Dominican military stationed along the border are allowing only those Haitians in possession of passports and valid Dominican visas to cross into Dominican territory. The Dominican military has reinforced its presence all along the border, reportedly so as to prevent a deluge of immigrants – according to Dominican media.
Image- AFP ("People walk past dead bodies in the center of Port-au-Prince.")
Online Sources- TVNZ, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, LAHT, Spero News

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