The Abinader administration carries out a vaccination plan that offers free vaccines to citizens but does not include those who are irregular immigrants.
Human rights defenders denounced that thousands of Haitian migrants are being discriminated against in the Dominican Republic because the government's vaccination plan totally excludes them from the COVID-19 vaccination process.
On Feb. 16, President Luis Abinader announced a vaccination plan that offers free vaccines to citizens but does not include those who are irregular immigrants. Among the people affected by his decision are the children who were born in the Dominican Republic but have not yet obtained their papers.
This happens, for example, to Nanyeli Mena and her six siblings who are the children of a Haitian mother and a Dominican father. They have never regularized their legal status despite the fact that the Constitution grants them nationality for being the children of a Dominican citizen.
In the poorest areas of Santo Domingo city, the opinion is unanimous that the exclusion of migrants is wrong. And it is not only those affected who say so. Health promoter Lourdes Antoine considers the government's decision discriminatory because "everyone has the right to be vaccinated" regardless of their nationality or race.
The La Merced Health Project Coordinator Jean Morban stressed that the exclusion of migrants increases the epidemiological risk because it places an important part of the population at risk of further spreading COVID-19.
Very Trumpesque: The president of the Dominican Republic has announced plans to build a fence along its border with Haiti, which extends for about 236 miles. Haiti is going through massive political issues atm with its people protesting to remove Jovenel Moïse from power pic.twitter.com/JrXRiNxxCw— Nathália Urban (@UrbanNathalia) February 28, 2021
Despite strong criticism from civil society, Health Minister Daniel Rivera reiterated that the vaccination plan only covers Dominicans and legally resident foreigners.
He also said that his government might study some way of vaccinating Haitians permanently residing in the country. This possibility, however, would only become effective if the Dominican authorities manage to establish "certain controls" to prevent Haitians from crossing the common border for the sole purpose of getting the free vaccine.
Meanwhile, in Haiti, a country facing a severe political and economic crisis for years, President Jovenel Moise has not announced a vaccination plan as he is still waiting for vaccines to be donated by the World Health Organization (WHO).