244 HAITIAN MIGRANTS APPREHENDED IN THE EXUMAS
(The Nassau Guardian) - By Royston Jones Jr.
A sloop carrying 244 Haitian migrants was apprehended west of Ship Channel Cay, Exuma, on Sunday afternoon, according to Director of Immigration Jack Thompson.
Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Sub-Lieutenant Origin Deleveaux said the 60-foot wooden sloop was sighted around 3:40 pm during surveillance patrols in the Exumas. The sloop was immediately intercepted.
"They favor traveling within the channel and chain area because it provides some camouflage, which makes them more difficult to track," Deleveaux said yesterday.
"What these vessels tend to do is come up from Haiti to Inagua and hit the chain of lights from Crooked Island through to Long Island, and up again through the channel".
The 187 men, 54 women, and 3 children were transported to HMBS Coral Harbour Base before being turned over to the Department of Immigration for further processing".
"We observed them and there are some physical signs that we look for, but they have to be tested", said Deleveaux when asked if any migrants displayed signs of cholera.
"They were in good condition from our standpoint. There were one or two persons who were dehydrated but they were overall in good health."
Thompson told the Nassau Guardian that the 244 migrants were transported to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre early yesterday morning and were processed.
"A medical team of six persons checked them out and there were no cases of cholera found," he said.
Deleveaux explained that there has been a high number of illegal Haitian migrant landings this year, particularly during the month of December," which is consistent with previous years".
The water is very rough in December and it is certinly not a favorable time to make these kinds of trips", he noted.
"However, they favor around this time because there is a popular belief that the country is enjoying the festivities and authorities will not be as attentive".
He added, "We step up patrols around this time because this is when a lot of them make that trip and attempt to land in The Bahamas."
Defence Force operational statistics reveal an increase in the number of Haitian migrants illegally landing and attempting to illegally land in The Bahamas since 2009, according to Deleveaux.
A total of 718 Haitian migrants were apprehended during 2009, compared to the 1,258 Haitian migrants apprehended in 2010.
1,093 Haitian migrants have been apprehended for 2011 so far.
Deleveaux pointed out that Haitian migrants are often prepared to be assimilated into Bahamian society, frequently traveling with additional clothing and cellular phones.