234 Haitian migrants repatriated

The remainder of the Haitian migrants who were being kept on Inagua over the past few weeks was repatriated yesterday, according to Minister of Immigration Keith Bell.

“They were all repatriated,” he said.

“There was no outbreak of any disease or famine, I am advised, and I am pleased to say that is the end to the challenge.”

More than 1,000 Haitian migrants were detained on Inagua in recent weeks after illegally entering The Bahamas.

The unprecedented number presented challenges for the island, which has a population of roughly 900.

Bell yesterday thanked those on Inagua who allowed use of churches and other facilities to house the migrants.

According to the Department of Immigration, 234 Haitian migrants were repatriated yesterday, some of whom left from New Providence.

The department said a Bahamasair charter flight departed New Providence, for Matthew Town, Inagua, early yesterday.

The flight, carrying 53 males and 11 female migrants, boarded an additional 64 migrants upon arrival into Matthew Town, totaling 128 Haitian nationals for this repatriation exercise into Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

A second Bahamasair flight departed Matthew Town at approximately 11:40 a.m. with 106 Haitian males, also en route to Cap-Haitien.

The Department of Immigration said both groups were “heavily escorted” by a law enforcement team comprised of immigration officers and Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) marines.

“The public is reminded that the department is committed to executing the mandates of our agency by effectively coordinating efforts with other law enforcement agencies, and international stakeholders to ensure compliance with the statute laws of our country,” the statement said.

While many worried that the migrant apprehensions in The Bahamas last month might have been signaling the start of a longer-term wave of attempted migration, Bell said yesterday the situation is under control.

“We knew that there were two sloops that were on their way and they were turned back,” he said.

“I commend the RBDF. I am advised that they have actually blocked the channel. And so, they have a number of assets down there to make sure that none of the sloops get through.”

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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