‘HUMANELY’ DETAINED: Govt considers Inagua holding facility after more than 700 Haitian migrants apprehended in past week

‘HUMANELY’ DETAINED: Govt considers Inagua holding facility after more than 700 Haitian migrants apprehended in past week
Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper.

Delegation traveled to Inagua over the weekend to ensure there was not a “humanitarian incident”

Haiti’s PM calls for respectful treatment of refugees 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said over the weekend that in the long term, the government hopes to implement a holding facility on Inagua to temporarily house migrants who enter The Bahamas illegally in a safe and humane manner before repatriation.

In a 48-hour period, more than 350 Haitian migrants were apprehended and detained on Inagua.

Late last night, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) reported that another group of more than 400 suspected Haitian migrants was apprehended following the alleged capsizing and subsequent sinking of a vessel in waters off of the Exumas.

A group of suspected Haitian undocumented migrants apprehended by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) in September 2021. (RBDF)

Illegal migration was among the issues raised at the 76th United National General Assembly in New York, where Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry said in order to find a “lasting solution” to the migration issues, there is a need to tackle the root causes of human displacement.

Cooper, who was acting prime minister at the time, said he traveled to Inagua with a delegation — including Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe, Minister of Immigration Keith Bell and Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville — to assess the situation.

“We found here today a terrible situation,” Cooper said.

“We have in excess of 300 [migrants], as I mentioned, sitting here outside in the elements and we wanted to ensure that in a very humanitarian way, we address those needs immediately.”

He said medical assistance was rendered and at least 10 people were transported to New Providence for medical attention.

He said women and children were also transported to New Providence, and officials were seeking to move the men to a church to rest before repatriation.

“We want to ensure that this is not a humanitarian incident,” Cooper said.

A large group of suspected Haitian migrants apprehended by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) in September 2021. (RBDF PHOTO)

“We have sufficient food and water and we have taken care of the migrants to the best of our ability. We’re grateful to the various officers who have provided that support to us over the last few days.”

To the issue of illegal migration, Cooper said it must be viewed in a consolidated way as high-level discussions continue among global leaders, including those in the region, to find solutions going forward.

He said the governments of Haiti and the United States were also being contacted to provide whatever assistance they could to help The Bahamas.

He continued: “Our mission is to find a methodology that’s been deployed before — to repatriate individuals swiftly back to their home country, directly from Inagua to Haiti.

“So, that is something that we are hoping to be done over the next several hours or next few days.

“But longer-term, I believe this has been a chronic problem for Inagua given [its] location, nearby to Haiti, so situations like this we want to ensure it doesn’t occur in the future by way of migrants having to sit in the elements.

“But we’re hoping longer term, we would have a holding facility and that facility might also be a multi-purpose center as a hurricane shelter, but certainly we anticipate that this is going to happen again.”

Prime Minister of Haiti Ariel Henry.

Addressing the UN General Assembly in a pre-recorded statement on Saturday, Henry urged the international community to urgently strengthen measures to improve living conditions in the countries of origin of political or economic refugees.

“In order to do this, state parties must recommit to the fundamental principles of the 1951 convention — together we must find in a spirit of cooperation the best ways and means of ensuring the rights of refugees be respected and protected,” Henry said.

“Over recent days, the images of the way many of my compatriots have been handled at the border between Mexico and the United States shocked many people.

“We do not wish to challenge the right of a sovereign state to control the entry of foreigners into its territory or to send back to their country of origin those who enter a country illegally.

“However, we believe that many countries which are prosperous today have been built through successive waves of migrants and refugees.

“The issue of migrants must remind us that human beings, fathers and mothers, who have children, are always going to flee poverty and conflict. They will always strive to offer better living standards to their children.

“Migration will continue as long as our planet has both wealthy areas, whilst most of the world’s population lives in poverty, even extreme poverty, without any prospect of a better life.”

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.


Mr. Henry as Prime minister needs to address the unrest that’s Going on within his country. The BAHAMAIN population and Government has for too long sacrifice and assist these person’s coming here illegally.This needs to stop as these same people has/have NO RESPECT for the BAHAMAIN people, They burn our Flags and at time’s call us ebassiles or stupid and yet they come here to be naturalized only to moved to the United States.STOP.

I’m sorry to hear about your experience with Haitians. I have two Haitian sons and I’m a white U.S. veteran, with 31 years of service to my country. I’ve tried two times to adopt my two boys only to have the Haitian government deny my adoption because I’m a single parent. My oldest boy was on the boat that had 151 people aboard. Haiti is really suffering right now. The gangs have taken over Haiti, making it very difficult for me to visit safely. I agree with you that if a Haitian is unduly disrespecting your people, they merit severe punishment. Most Haitians are not like that. I so sorry for that. I guarantee you that they are the exception and not the rule. Paul Cormier

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