According to the Miami Herald, the U.S. Coast Guard said it had returned 149 migrants to their Caribbean homelands after intercepting their boats at sea, west of Great Inagua, Bahamas. A total of 112 Haitian migrants were returned to Cap-Haitien, Haiti, on Friday. Meanwhile, The Nassau Guardian reports that 244 Haitian migrants traveling in a 60-foot wooden sloop were apprehended close to Exuma have been sent home.
A Coast Guard crew on the St. Petersburg-based cutter Resolute, conducting a routine patrol in the Caribbean, discovered their sail freighter west of Great Inagua, Bahamas. The vessel was “grossly overloaded” with 87 men, 19 women and six children, according to Coast Guard Capt. Brendan McPherson, 7th Coast Guard District chief of enforcement. The migrants were given life jackets and transferred to the Coast Guard cutter. The Coast Guard says it also returned eight Cuban migrants Wednesday and 29 Cuban migrants Friday to Bahía de Cabañas, Cuba. Officials say the migrants were picked up at sea in two separate incidents. All the migrants received food, water and medical care aboard Coast Guard vessels before being repatriated.
About the most recent discovery in the Bahamas—off Ship Channel Cay in Exuma—the migrants were tested for various diseases at HMBS Coral Harbour Bay. Director of Immigration Jack Thompson said the 187 men, 54 women and three children did not test positive for cholera. The 244 Haitians were taken to the Carmichael Road Detention Center for further processing.
Sub-Lieutenant of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Origin Deleveaux, said the number of Haitians seeking to enter the country illegally spikes during December because some believe surveillance is less attentive during the holiday season. However, he stressed that this is the worst season to embark on this type of trip, since the ocean is very rough in December.
Haitian President Michel Martelly has asked citizens to “stay off the high seas in boats at risk, thus endangering their lives in the desperate purpose to go illegally to a new home in search of opportunities.” His appeal came after the bodies of 38 Haitian migrants were found dead just off the eastern tip of Cuba.
So far, 1,093 Haitian migrants have already been apprehended in 2011.
For original articles, see http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/24/2560431/us-coast-guard-repatriates-149.html and http://www.thenassauguardian.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=19934:244-haitian-migrants-apprehended-in-the-exumas&catid=3:news&Itemid=27