One hundred and eighty-five Haitians were apprehended on Friday evening in waters off Inagua, according to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF).
The RBDF said the apprehension was the result of a joint operation with Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) and authorities from the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).
“While on routine patrol, an OPBAT helicopter spotted a 30-foot low profile, wooden vessel at 5 p.m. approximately 24 NM (nautical miles) off Little Inagua with an unknown number of persons on board,” RBDF said in a statement on Saturday.
“Turks and Caicos’ authorities, OPBAT and the defence force operations were immediately alerted, and each entity directed an asset assigned to the area to intercept.
“HMBS Bahamas arrived on scene shortly after 11 p.m. with permission from Turks and Caicos foreign affairs to assist in removing the migrants from their unsafe sloop, under the SOLAS Convention (1974).”
According to the statement, 84 Haitians were taken aboard onto the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter and transferred to TCI authorities.
The defense force said the remaining 101 migrants were taken onto HMBS Bahamas.
The remaining Haitians were to be transported to Matthew Town, Inagua, for further processing by immigration authorities.
“The RBDF has been implementing measures to address threats and challenges of the influx of migrants from Haiti, especially as the southeasterly winds become more favorable for an easier sojourn into The Bahamas from Haiti and also in light of the more than two months of demonstrations that the neighboring country has been experiencing in recent times,” the defence force said.
“The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is actively monitoring changes in illicit trends and patterns which are expected to occur and for which the RBDF must anticipate, adapt and adjust for proactively.”