Dominican government rejects UN expert’s opinion on water conflict with Haiti

Santo Domingo, Sept 18 (EFE).- The Dominican government rejected on Monday the statements made hours earlier by the UN expert on Haiti, William O’Neill, who urged the government to reconsider the closure of the border.

The Dominican government issued a statement calling O’Neill’s remarks “biased and unfortunate” and said that “any dialogue with Haiti” would be conditional on the effective cessation of “the unilateral and illegal construction of the canal” on the Masacre River, the natural border between the two countries.

O’Neill’s comment said that the Dominican Republic’s decision to “close its land, sea and air border” would have “have serious impacts on people on both sides of the border,” but that these would be “even more dire” on the Haitian side.

“Directors of medical clinics in Haiti have told me that they will not be able to care for their patients if access to the Dominican Republic is cut off. Lives are at stake,” the UN expert said.

The Dominican government responded that it “takes note of the request to allow the passage of humanitarian aid to Haiti,” which, as the expert pointed out, receives at least a quarter of its food from the Dominican Republic, but “reiterates that the immediate and definitive solution to this problem lies in the hands of Haiti, once it decides to stop the construction of the canal.”

Moreover, it said is not responsible for the internal situation in Haiti, nor is it reasonable for it to have to “guarantee the social welfare of Haitians” and instead called on the international community to take action.

O’Neil had urged the Dominican government to respond “with solidarity in light of the humanitarian situation.”

Instead, the Dominican government responded that “neither Dominicans nor Haitians want confrontation” and that “our people want to live in peace. We are not looking for confrontation, but we are confronting the uncontrollable who are creating insecurity in Haiti.”

And adding that “there is no conflict between the two governments, because the crisis has been generated by opportunistic and irresponsible Haitian private actors”.

The resumption of construction of an irrigation canal on the Haitian side of the Masacre River, which was halted in 2021 after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, prompted Dominican President Luis Abinader to order the border closed this week.

Other retaliatory measures include suspending the issuance of visas to Haitian citizens and permanently banning the entry of “all those involved in the conflict,” nine people in total.

The Haitian government, which continues to support dialogue to resolve the conflict, has defended its right to use the waters of the Masacre River based on the provisions of the 1929 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Arbitration, which the Dominican government uses as the basis for its claim that the water intake works are illegal. EFE


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