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Nearly 100 illegal Haitianimmigrants caught

Nearly 100 Haitian immigrants were apprehended in Bahamian waters by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force(RBDF)this weekend.

This is the first group of illegals to be apprehended on the high seas so far for the year, the RBDF reported yesterday.

According to a short statement, members of the defence force attached to the Exuma Land and Sea Park program were on a routine patrol on Saturday when they boarded and searched a sailing sloop some three miles west off Waderick Wells Cay in the Exumas, shortly after 8 a.m.

“The search led to the arrest of nearly 100 persons, all believed to be Haitian nationals,”the statement said.

The immigrants arrived at Coral Harbour Base late Saturday evening and were turned over to the Department of Immigration.

“The force maintains its commitment in actively patrolling its territorial waters to establish its presence, deter would-be perpetrators and rid the waters of the criminally-minded,”the statement added.

Earlier this month, a group of54 Haitian nationals who illegally landed in the country were repatriated.

The illegal immigrants were found wandering in Exuma shortly after they landed in the area of Sands Cay. The group was caught on January 2 sometime after 1 p.m.

They were spotted by island residents who called police and immigration officials to advise them about the wandering Haitians, Immigration Director Jack Thompson said.

The group was reportedly walking near the old George Town Airport in Exuma when they were discovered.

Thompson said investigations led to the discovery of a wooden sloop in the area south of Sands Cay, which is south of the old airport.

Initially 17 persons were found, but the number climbed to 54 after Royal Bahamas Defence Force and immigration officials were dispatched to scour the area.

Going forward, Thompson said the Department of Immigration intends to remain on the alert.

“We intend to keep a watchful eye,”Thompson said at the time.”With our law enforcement partners, the police and defence force, we’re going to be very vigilant with respect to our borders. We are thankful to the public who gives us so much support. We intend to take all the necessary precautions.”

The latest group will be tested before they are repatriated.

Since the cholera outbreak in Haiti last year, the Department of Immigration has vigilantly screened all immigrants, according to Health Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control(CDC)an epidemic cholera strain has been confirmed in Haiti. Cholera is a potentially fatal bacterial infection.

In a statement the CDC said the cholera outbreak in Haiti has spread to every section of that island, affecting more than 91,000 people and killing more than 2,000. It is the first cholera outbreak in Haiti in at least 100 years. Symptoms of the disease include watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps.

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