The Soapbox: Haitian migrant crisis, West Bank, Sudan

The Soapbox is a weekly column by WSN’s news desk, examining the major developments in world news and rounding up the stories we think are worth the read this week. Global consciousness for a global university.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

The Soapbox is a weekly news column rounding up stories worth reading for a global university. (Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

By Suhail Gharaibeh, Deputy News Editor

At the southern border, a human rights scandal

The Associated Press reported that U.S. authorities have expelled or paroled 15,000 migrants — most of whom are Haitians — who gathered on the banks of the Rio Grande last week. According to federal authorities, more than 2,000 Haitians have been expelled from the border in the past week on flights chartered by the U.S. government, while 5,000 were taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security. The remaining asylum seekers have either entered the United States on parole — meaning they could eventually be subject to deportation — or have retreated to Mexico, where they also face persecution from authorities.

Images showing Haitian migrants being chased and whipped by U.S. border police on horseback were published by the Agence France-Presse on Sept. 20, sparking international outrage. Four days later, President Joe Biden’s special envoy to Haiti resigned in protest over the treatment of the asylum seekers. VICE News and the Associated Press highlighted the discriminatory effects of U.S. border policies — and the long, racist history of authorities on horseback whipping Black people. 

Biden, who portrayed himself as supportive of immigrants’ rights during his 2020 presidential campaign, said the border agents caught whipping Haitians “will pay.” But his administration is currently appealing a court order blocking the expulsion of migrants under Title 42, a federal statute revived by former President Donald Trump at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to CNBC, the Trump administration expelled more than 440,000 migrants under Title 42, while the Biden administration has used the law to expel more than 690,000 since taking office.

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, warned that the Biden administration’s use of Title 42 to expel asylum seekers en masse without screening for basic safety needs may be in contravention of international law. The long-established legal principle of non-refoulement bars the return of migrants to places where they may face violence or persecution — such as Haiti, where civilians are currently facing gang wars, kidnappings, killings, hunger and displacement.

In the occupied West Bank, a bloody crackdown by military authorities

Israeli armed forces killed five Palestinians in the occupied West Bank early Sunday, Sept. 26, as part of a purported crackdown on the armed group Hamas.

Al Jazeera reported that the five Palestinians — whom Israeli forces had pinpointed as “Hamas operatives” — were killed in gun battles that broke out after Israeli forces raided Palestinian villages near Jenin and Jerusalem. The youngest victim was 16-year-old Yousif Soboh. 

The Palestinian Authority has condemned the killings — which it called “field executions” — as a “heinous crime.” Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the Israeli army is preparing for retaliatory rocket fire from Hamas militants in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Last month, Israeli armed forces killed four Palestinians during a raid on a refugee camp near Jenin in the occupied West Bank. The killings also come amid a widespread arrest campaign by Israeli authorities in the West Bank following a high-profile jailbreak that freed six Palestinians from a maximum-security Israeli prison.

In Sudan, a protest movement, a thwarted military invasion and an attempted coup

On Sept. 21, Sudanese authorities said they prevented “an orchestrated coup” by agents associated with the former government of President Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in a coup d’état during the Sudanese Revolution in 2019.

“Tensions between Sudan’s military and civilian politicians reached a low point on Sunday in the wake of last week’s attempted coup with senior officials calling on the public to prepare for protests over the withdrawal of official security details,” a Reuters analyst reported Sunday. “The deteriorating relations have put the fragile transition to democratic civilian rule in its most precarious position in the two years since the removal of former President Omar al-Bashir.”

The Sudanese military also said on Sept. 26 that it repelled a military invasion by Ethiopian armed forces into eastern Sudan. An army spokesperson said that Sudanese fighters forced the Ethiopians to retreat from the disputed border region of Umm Barakit. Diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Sudan have deteriorated in recent months as conflict in the Tigray region has spilled over the border, sending thousands of refugees and scores of dead bodies into eastern Sudan.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s energy ministry said on Sept. 25 that protesters shut down a pipeline carrying crude oil to the capital, Khartoum.

“Protesters from the Beja tribes in eastern Sudan have been shutting ports and blocking roads in protest against what they describe as poor political and economic conditions in the region,” Al Jazeera reported from Khartoum.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, September 27, 2021, e-print edition. Contact Suhail Gharaibeh at [email protected]