US Coast Guard intercepts ship with 179 Haitians on board off the Bahamas

MIAMI, March 1 – About 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Andros Island (Bahamas), the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a boat carrying 179 Haitians, which may have been heading toward the Florida coast, this organization said Tuesday. The Haitians who intercepted Sunday are scheduled to be transferred today to the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, the Coast Guard said in a statement. The “loaded boat” was discovered Sunday night by an aircraft from the Coast Guard Air Force base in Clearwater (Florida’s west coast) and its location was immediately reported to boats close to this force, as well as to the command post. “The Coast Guard continues to conduct air and sea patrols to deter this type of unsafe travel,” said Vladimir Jimenez, a lieutenant in the 7th District of the Coast Guard. Jiménez warned that “the probability of such an emigration being successful is low and that people who are intercepted will be returned” to their countries of origin. The authorities did not report the health status of the group of Haitian immigrants, or whether they included women and children. They only noted that once they boarded the Coast Guard vessel, “all migrants received food, water, shelter and medical assistance.” Last January, the US Coast Guard intercepted another boat near the Florida Keys carrying 176 Haitians, ten of whom had to be taken to hospital with symptoms of dehydration. Since last October 1, 2021 (the start of fiscal year 2022), Coast Guard crews have intercepted 993 Haitians, compared to 1,527 registered in fiscal year 2021. EFE emi/lce

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