396 Haitian migrants on a large boat were detained by the U.S. Coast Guard near the Bahamas on Saturday, January 21st. The detention took place near the Bahamas close to the remote island of Cay Sal, found between Cuba and Florida, Bahamian officials said. The migrants would be repatriated back to Haiti after they were processed on the Bahamian island of Inagua.
One of the Biggest Detentions
The detention of the Haitian migrants was described as one of the biggest human trafficking incidents in that region. Nicole Groll, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman, informed The Associated Press that the detention of the Haitian migrants took place on that Saturday afternoon. The migrants were discovered on a 50-foot boat. “It was grossly overloaded and very much unsafe,” Groll said.
According to The Washington Post, Haitian migrants have resorted to using the Bahamas and surrounding islands as a passageway to Florida. The boat trips are usually dangerous with a multitude of people packed into unsafe vessels that are capable of sinking or capsizing.
The desperate situation in Haiti has caused more movement of its citizens from their country. The Caribbean nation is currently facing a stability crisis with no elected officials presiding over political offices. Gangs have taken over areas of the country, making it difficult for local security and police officials to exert control.
Haitian migrants will, however, face a challenge entering the U.S. President Joe Biden recently announced that Haitians, Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans who arrive at the Texas border illegally will be turned away. Asylum-seeking migrants from those countries will have to take a legal route to enter the U.S. by securing a financial sponsor, applying online, and a flight into the country.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the deployment of an international specialized armed force in Haiti. “The people of Haiti are suffering the worst human rights and humanitarian emergency in decades,” he wrote in a report on Haiti.