Nearly 300 Haitian migrants detained


Tribune Staff Reporter

NEARLY 300 Haitian migrants in three different groups were apprehended in the southern Bahamas over the weekend.

The migrants' arrests were a result of three separate operations by law enforcement off southern Inagua Sunday night.

The migrants are currently being held in Mathew Town, Inagua.

According to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the RBDF vessel HMBS Durward Knowles led the first operation when 100 Haitian nationals were apprehended.

The second group of migrants were detained as a result of a joint operation between a RBDF patrol craft and the US Coast Guard; 86 people were apprehended in that exercise.

According to a RBDF press release, the third group of migrants were taken into custody "following a joint interdiction effort by local law enforcement and members of the Inagua community."

This occurred "after the vessel landed on Lantern Head Point near the southeast coast of Great Inagua after 8 pm (Sunday) night." Seventy-five people were apprehended at the time.

As a result of these efforts, 261 migrants are currently detained in Mathew Town, Inagua.

According to the RBDF, these successful operations are a result of efforts to "strengthen" a multilateral approach to southern border security.

"These latest arrests are a result of the strategic intent of the commander (of the) Defence Force to strengthen the partnership with local and regional partners in securing the southern border of the Bahamas as a top priority in keeping with the Bahamas government's intent," the RBDF said in a press release.

The RBDF noted Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said on Sunday, at the RBDF's annual church service, that many persons engaged in illicit maritime activities gain access through the country's southern borders.

Mr Dames reiterated the government's intent to augment borders in Inagua and Ragged Island, "to sustain long term air and sea operations in this region."

"These bases are located at strategic choke points for anti-poaching, migrant and drug smuggling operations," the RBDF said.

Last month, 25 Haitians were apprehended in New Providence by law enforcement.

In January, the RBDF arrested 70 Haitians on board a 40ft sailing vessel east of Wemyss in southern Long Island. In 2017, "the defence force apprehended or assisted with the apprehensions of some 1,300 migrants," according to a February RBDF press release.