CSMS Magazine Staff WritersFor some time, the United Nations has been conducting a pilot project designed to help Haitians deportees reintegrate into Haitian society. The project is now a year old, and it provides resettlement and reintegration services for Haitians who have been deported back to their homeland from the United States and other countries after being convicted and serving their sentences for various crimes.According to USINFO, the services for the returning Haitians include counseling, vocational training, skills development and micro-credit lending. Haiti is one of the Caribbean’s largest recipients of deportees. Most, but not all, of the deportees are returning from the United States.The pilot project in Haiti operates with a $1 million grant from the U.N. Development Program to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which provides support for the Haitian returnees.One of the main goals of the project is to eliminate the “deportee” stigma that makes the Haitian deportees outcasts in their own country. According to Maureen Achleng, IOM chief of mission in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, between 350 and 650 deportees have registered as participants since the project begins.Many observers believe that one of the greatest obstacles to the reintegration of Haitian deportees is that many of them have lived away from Haiti for many years.Achleng said the pilot project seeks to work with Haiti’s government to carry out a nationwide campaign to reduce, if not eliminate, the stigma associated with deportees, who widely are perceived as fueling violence. In so doing, the program places emphasis on successful reintegration stories.Achleng added that IOM hopes to continue the pilot project until February 2008, after which the objective is for the Haitian government to assume control, “although that remains to be seen” because of the weakness of that government.
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