US awaits flights to resume Haitian deportations

View of the beach in Port Salut southwest of Port-au-Prince, on October 12, 2016, following the passage of Hurricane Matthew (AFP Photo/Rodrigo Arangua)

Washington (AFP) - US authorities will resume sending undocumented Haitian migrants back to their country when deportation flights can land again in the hurricane-ravaged country, the US government said Wednesday.

US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had suggested during a visit to Mexico on Tuesday that he was temporarily suspending deportations of Haitians in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

But Johnson clarified in a statement on Wednesday that the deportations were temporarily suspended due to the cancellations of flights after hundreds of people were killed by the hurricane last week.

"Working with the government of Haiti, DHS (Department of Homeland Security) intends to resume those flights as soon as possible," he said.

The United States stopped deporting Haitians to their country as a humanitarian measure following the 2010 earthquake that killed 220,000 in the Caribbean nation.

But after thousands began to arrive at the US-Mexico border in recent months, Johnson announced on September 22 that Haitians would again be treated like other migrants who entered the United States illegally.

"This should be clear: the policy change I announced on September 22 remains in effect, for now and in the future," Johnson said.