Sharp increase in migrant apprehensions this year

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) has apprehended at least 3,249 undocumented migrants so far this year, data shows.

Of that figure, 2,620 Haitians and 623 Cubans were apprehended in Bahamian waters up to the end of November.

The highest number of apprehensions occurred in April with 743. The lowest occurred in July with 74.

There was a lull in apprehensions from May to October. Although 314 migrants were apprehended in August, fewer than 200 migrants were apprehended each month during that period.

RBDF apprehended 435 migrants last month.

This year’s apprehensions far exceed the defense force’s apprehension for the last three years.

In 2021, 1,644 migrants were apprehended; 249 in 2020; and 342 in 2019.

RBDF Commodore Dr. Raymond King acknowledged the increased apprehensions yesterday, but said it had not reached crisis level.

“The increasing irregular migration flows is a major concern which is being adequately managed through the use of national and regional security cooperation resources,” he said.

Economic and social challenges have worsened in Haiti, which has witnessed various atrocities at the hands of street gangs. As a result, more Haitians have fled into neighboring countries.

The situation became so dire that Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe said in October The Bahamas would send defense force officers to Haiti if called upon do to so.

“People get this impression that they just aren’t doing nothing,” he said.

“They sit down preparing for deployment to protect the national interests of The Bahamas. The national interests of The Bahamas, overarchingly, is to see peace in this region; and if we are called upon to provide men, we will.”

Munroe said one of the biggest issues the RBDF addresses is irregular migration from Haiti.

In October, Director of Immigration Keturah Ferguson said the government repatriated more than 2,800 migrants at a cost of nearly $2.3 million.

Since then, the Department of Immigration has carried out several more repatriation exercises, including the repatriation of 174 Haitians last Wednesday.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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