Security Heightened in Anticipation of Influx of Haitian Refugees

NASSAU (CMC) | Head of the Immigration Enforcement Unit in The Bahamas, Kirklyn Neely says the department has pulled out all stops based on reports that more boats from Haiti are heading towards the territory. Neely, in an interview with the Tribune newspaper said more boats are expected before Christmas.

“So we have our eyes and ears out in Nassau and in the Family Islands. We still have 79 illegal Haitian migrants at the Detention Centre and we will be sending 114 of them back to Haiti on a Bahamas-air flight on Monday at 8:30. As it relates to the latest boat, we still have no idea how many persons were on boat but we do know we have the captain of the boat and we expect to get more information from him,” Neely told the Tribune.

His comments came moments after a boat with Haitian migrants landed near Clifton Pier on the island New Providence last Monday.

The illegal landing prompted the leader of the main opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), Philip Davis to call for “heads to roll,” saying an explanation is needed from authorities. In recent weeks immigration officers and other authorities have been on high alert.

Last month, a large empty sloop was discovered on the shoreline of Adelaide Beach but despite extensive searches, immigration officials said no one from that boat was captured. According to Neely, it’s believed that between 150 and 250 undocumented migrants were on board the sloop. Last month, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said the Bahamas is an archipelago of over 700 islands and cays, adding it is not possible to identify every vessel that comes through its borders.