DETAINED! More than 180 Haitians held in vessel close to the Bahamas

Bahamian authorities say they have detained more than 180 Haitian nationals following a joint operation involving Bahamian and Turks and Caicos Islands officials over the last weekend.

The Haitians were spotted in a wooden vessel on the weekend.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) says the southern borders of The Bahamas continue to be an area of concern and has stepped up its enforcement initiatives in that area.

It said as a result, and based on shared intelligence, a total of 185 Haitian migrants were apprehended very late on Friday evening during a joint operation by the RBDF and Operations Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT), which is a tripartite agreement between the United States, Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas.

Helicopter spots wooden vessel

According to the RBDF, an OPBAT helicopter spotted a 30-foot low profile, wooden vessel approximately 24 nautical miles off Little Inagua with an unknown number of persons on-board.

It said that the HMBS BAHAMAS which first arrived on scene requested permission from Turks and Caicos Foreign Affairs to assist in removing the migrants from their unsafe sloop, under the SOLAS Convention (1974).

“A total of 84 persons were taken aboard the USCG Cutter, which will be transferred to the TCI authorities, and the 101 migrants on board HMBS BAHAMAS will be transported to Mathew Town, Inagua, for further processing by Immigration authorities on that island.”

The RBDF said it has been implementing measures to address threats and challenges of the influx of migrants from Haiti, “especially as the southeasterly winds become more favourable for an easier sojourn into the Bahamas from Haiti and also in light of the more than two months of demonstrations that the neighbouring country has been experiencing in recent times.”