Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 11:55 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Haiti

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Haiti , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 13 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Some 25,800 Haitians were refugees or asylum seekers at the end of 2003, down 22 percent from the year before. Most (22,050) were awaiting the outcome of pending asylum claims in the United States. Haiti generated some 8,300 new refugees and asylum seekers in 2003, bringing it behind Colombia and Cuba as a leading source country in the Americas. About 6,600 sought asylum in the United States (about 100 fewer than in 2002, adjusted), 1,300 in France (600 fewer than 2002). 189 applied in the Dominican Republic on top of a backlog of 200 pending. 195 applied in Canada where 148 were granted and 156 were pending at years end. Nearly 1,800 Haitians were granted asylum in the United States during the year, a 25 percent increase over the year before. The approval rate of Haitian cases before asylum officers was about 32 percent and before immigration judges, about 19 percent.

The U.S. Coast Guard interdicted more than 2,000 Haitians at sea in fiscal year 2003, up more than 35 percent from the year before, and summarily repatriated virtually all of them without granting them any meaningful opportunity to claim asylum. One intrepid Haitian did manage to win refugee status literally by shouting his claim out loud in the interdicting vessel. The United States did not permit him to enter but detained him on Guantánamo Naval Base pending identification of a third country to which it could resettle him.

Thousands more fled to the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.

New Developments

Haiti was wracked with political violence throughout the year as mobs of supporters of President Aristide attacked opposition demonstrators calling for his resignation. Haitian police rarely intervened effectively and, more often, did so to suppress the opposition. Partisans of both sides threatened and attacked independent journalists and even pro-government media workers and several fled the country. Politicized gangs, many with ties to the president, and some armed opposition groups and former members of the military wreaked havoc throughout the land and a series of police chiefs resigned and fled the country. In addition, according to a report by the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), the police force has revived the use of auxiliaries or attachés – a practice historically associated with human rights violations.

In 2004, armed militants formerly associated with Aristide's Lavalas movement and the former Haitian military seized most of the country. Fighting killed about 200 before the United States and France pressured Aristide to leave February 29 in favor of interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue. Renewed persecution of Aristide supporters may have rendered some 3,000 formerly failed asylum seekers in the United States refugees sur place.

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