Dominican Republic to reopen border with Haiti for essential trade

The Dominican Republic government said Monday it will temporarily allow trade of essential products, including food and medications, on its border with Haiti. But it said it will maintain a ban on the entry of Haitian citizens amid a dispute over the construction of a canal targeting a river that runs through both countries.

The measure will come into force on Wednesday starting at 8 am in four border provinces in an effort to facilitate the trade of products aimed especially at children, the government said in a statement.

The announcement comes weeks after the Dominican Republic announced the closure of all land, air and sea borders with Haiti in a dispute about construction of a canal on Haitian soil that would divert waters from the Massacre River in order to alleviate a drought that affects the Haitian Maribaroux plain.

This generated a diplomatic crisis between both countries that share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

The Dominican government also said it will reinforce the country’s military presence on the border to make access to its territory more difficult for gang members who could flee Haiti as a multinational force arrives in the troubled Caribbean nation after approval by the UN Security Council.

“We will indefinitely maintain the closure of the border to immigration to prevent the transit of people from Haitian territory,” the government said, adding it will also indefinitely extend the suspension of visas to Haitian citizens.

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