Ministers Munroe and Bell Issue Joint Statement on Government’s Efforts to Manage the Ongoing Haitian Migrant Influx

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STATEMENT| The Government of The Bahamas remains resolute in addressing the current influx of Haitian migrants attempting to enter The Bahamas.

The number one priority of the government is to defend the territorial sovereignty of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas while ensuring that the Bahamian people are protected.

To this end, no resources will be spared as all involved agencies work towards addressing this situation.

In the face of unprecedented levels of Haitian migrant activity that has inundated countries throughout the region, the government has taken decisive action to scale up operations.

These measures have resulted in the interception of migrant vessels in the southern waters of The Bahamas, preventing passage into the Central Bahamas near New Providence where they were typically intercepted in past years. The routes to New Providence and other islands have effectively been cordoned off.

We have also expedited the repatriation process so that the migrants who are currently here can be processed and returned to their country in record time.

Resources deployed for the benefit of this operation include the HMBS Rolly Gray, HMBS Lignum Vitae,HMBS Lawrence Major, an RBDF safe boat, RBDF air support, and their respective crews. The officers of the Department of Immigration have contributed their efforts to the safe detainment of migrants and the Royal Bahamas Police Force has provided a safe boat, as well as the support of its officers. The United States Coast Guard has provided the support of five USCG Cutters, three helicopters, and fixed wing support.

We want to express in the strongest possible terms, to the citizens of Haiti that the journey by boat to the Bahamas is a dangerous one, and we have deployed our assets and resources to prevent entry into our territorial waters. When intercepted, you will be quickly processed and returned home. We are resolute in defending and protecting our borders.

We thank the men and women of the participating agencies for their hard work, sacrificing time away from family and loved ones during a global pandemic to fulfil their duty to country. We also thank the residents of the impacted islands for their patience, cooperation, and support in joining the Government in this national effort.

We do not yet know how long this spike in illegal migrants will continue; however, the government will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the Bahamian people, empowering our men and women on the frontlines and ensuring that the migrants are treated humanely and repatriated swiftly.

We will continue to prioritize the allocation of resources and improvements of systems to develop capacity for the short and long term. As stated, our number one priority is the protection of our borders and the citizens of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.