Tensions between Haiti and Dominican Republic over canal, border closed

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  • Reuters
    The canal by the river between the two countries
  • Reuters
    Haitians continue to work on the canal
  • Reuters
    Just before the border closure, it was busy at the crossings

Tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti have continued to rise. Neighboring countries, which share an island, disagree over digging a canal in Haiti. The United Nations warns of a dire situation now that the Dominican Republic has closed its border with Haiti.

Haiti is digging a canal connected to a border river between the two countries. Haiti says it needs the water for agriculture due to the drought, but the Dominican Republic fears that the canal could cause drought for farmers on their side of the border.

In addition, the Dominican Republic relies on a 1929 border treaty that stipulates that the course of the river may not be changed. Haiti says the Dominican Republic has since dug its own canals.

UN chief Guterres will meet the president of the Dominican Republic tomorrow to discuss the passage of humanitarian aid. UN human rights expert William O’Neill also makes a similar call; The closed border may prevent essential goods from arriving in Haiti, which is already in a humanitarian crisis. “People’s lives are at stake.”

‘Unfortunate response’

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Dominican Republic called O’Neill’s call “biased and unfortunate”. “It is unreasonable for our country to be held responsible for the well-being of Haitians.”

The government in Santo Domingo refuses talks until the canal construction is halted. The government is also threatening to build two dams that would have a “significant effect” on Haiti.

Just before the Dominican Republic closed the border last week, it was busy at the border crossings. The Dominican Republic has recently deported thousands of Haitians despite criticism from the UN.

Haiti has long been gripped by gang violence; dozens of gangs control the capital Port-au-Prince. Looting and lynchings have left hundreds dead and injured. Gang violence has long been a problem in the country, but has become “more violent and frequent” since the beginning of this year, according to the UN.

Several aid organizations have already stopped their projects due to the security situation in the country. The police in Haiti have few resources and the central government has little authority.

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