‘My parents were born in Haiti, but me, I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. I am over 30 years old and came to Haiti for the first time last month when I was arrested and deported from the Dominican Republic for having Haitian ancestry.’
These are the words of Yella Feliz Luiz who, along with her husband and four children, became a refugee in Haiti... simply for having a Haitian heritage.
In 2013, the Dominican Republic passed a court ruling which retroactively stripped Dominican citizenship from anyone living in the country who did not have at least one fully Dominican parent. The law applied to every individual who had settled in the Dominican Republic from as far back as 1929 and by July last year buses full of families of Haitian descent were soon deported back to neighbouring Haiti.
According to the OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), more than 120,000 people have been sent back to Haiti from the Dominican Republic with many families leaving behind their belongings, businesses and livelihoods.
Yella, her family, and many others suddenly faced a new stateless status: stripped of their Dominican citizenship yet never formally identified as Haitian. On being forced to leave the Dominican Republic, Yella and her family found themselves living in a refugee camp in south-east Haiti.
But, thanks to your faithful support, we have been able to work with local partner World Concern to provide food kits, hygiene kits, basic necessities and training sessions to refugee families. We have also worked to identify the most vulnerable families, and helped relocate them into long-term housing.
Yella’s family were among those able to move into a permanent new home, offering stability, greater comfort and hope for a new life in Haiti.
Despite the loss and uncertainty, Yella says, ‘Even though everything seemed so bad, I choose to have hope, I knew that God was watching.’
- Praise God that Yella and her family are now safe and settled. We rejoice together that their lives are beginning to return to normality, and that their future is full of fresh hope.
- Pray for Yella as she focuses on building up a new business so that she can provide her family with everything they need to thrive in Haiti.
- Give thanks for Tearfund and the work of local partners who are providing lasting solutions and bringing change to those most in need.
We pray because we're desperate for God - to walk with him... in step with his will for the world.
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