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Bahamas On Alert For Migrants After Haiti Unrest

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A police officer walks through the parking lot of the Delimart supermarket complex in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday after civil unrest at the weekend. Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery/AP

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

AS civil unrest unfolded in Haiti over the weekend, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said local law enforcement agencies were put on alert for a potential uptick in illegal migration.

Violent protests raged in the capital Port-au-Prince for a third day over double-digit fuel prices set by the government on Friday, according to Reuters, which reported yesterday that anger over the increase had not lessened despite a temporary suspension.

Dr Minnis told media on Saturday the Department of Immigration, police and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force had mobilised teams to address any influx of Haitian sloops.

He warned Bahamians not to hire illegal immigrants as the Immigration Department has been instructed to arrest and prosecute employers who engage undocumented migrant workers.

Dr Minnis said: “And I ask all Bahamians who may have vessels or (are) involved in the maritime industry, for them to monitor our waters as to avert any increase in Haitian migration to our shores. I’ve also spoken to the commissioner of police who will offer assistance to both immigration and (the RBDF) so our nation will be prepared in the event there is an increase in Haitian movement from Haiti because of the unrest.

“I will urge Bahamians again, individuals seek different countries looking for employment. I urge them again do not employ individuals who are illegal within our shores. I’ve already informed the Immigration Department to be very vigilant and any Bahamian who is hiring an illegal immigrant, that Bahamian is to be arrested and taken before the courts and the same will apply. We will protect our borders and we will protect jobs for our people.

“So, we will be very aggressive on that,” he said.

On Saturday, Dr Minnis said he did not expect the unrest to intensify but noted he was in talks with the American government, which was also monitoring developments with a view to ensure protection of its citizens.

According to Reuters, Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced a temporary suspension to the price increases for gasoline, diesel and kerosene on Saturday afternoon. The decision to raise prices was reportedly part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which called for a range of austerity measures.

On Saturday, Bahamasair moved to temporarily suspend all flights into Haiti citing civil unrest and concern for the safety of passengers and crew.

The airline said it will only resume service after it was satisfied there was no threat. Bahamasair flew its inaugural flight into Haiti in January last year.

“I can assure the Bahamian people that our staff personnel are safe,” Dr Minnis said.

“The problem that Haiti had faced in terms of the gas prices being increased by anywhere from 37 to 51 percent, they have reversed that, therefore both ourselves and the Americans feel that the matter would be resolved however in the event it’s not resolved, we have been in communication with the Americans, we will continue our discussions so that our people will be safe at all costs with the assistance of the Americans.”

Comments

Alex_Charles 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Where is Louby boy and Fred smith now to condemn the PM and the Defense for intercepting these sloops?

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DDK 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Any truth to the rumour that the U.S. have moved in troops already? Again?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Sadly, the State Department of the U.S. has long ago taken the position that the word 'Bahamian' is for all intents and purposes synonymous with the word 'Haitian' as far as U.S. national security interests are concerned. We, the Bahamian people, have for many years now been paying a very dear price for the willingness of our corrupt politicians to 'Haitianize' the Bahamas as a means of keeping political power and staying in elected office no matter what the costs to our country. Frankie Campbell is but one example of the dire depths to which our country has fallen. Fred Smith QC is another shining example of how far our country has fallen. Sadly, most Bahamians are completely oblivious to what has been happening. But the day is rapidly approaching when Bahamians will not be welcomed in the U.S.

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bogart 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Given the Bahamas stand on reasserting its laws its leaders steadfast on resolving this long overdue illegal shantyyowns harbouring large groups of migrants legal and ilegsl posing many challemges to Bahamian and living death trap to its inhabitants fron illegal electrical hokups....health hazards from improper sanitation.?domestic animals raised in unsanitary conditions...waiting danger from hurricane ...etc... It is not a surprise that given the crackdown and a threat to the some 57 million dollars sentback annually from these migrants....that it would be stongly sispect that hiven the steady GDP growth rate by Haiti over past years that this most ...pecuiar ...heafty increase in gas 38%....diesel...48% and kerosene 50 plus % be introfuced by the Haitian politicians ...fully knowing that doing this ...and while the Caricom nations were meeting...would fully trigger riots...and ultimate instability wpild lead to Haitians wanting to take to the boats and flee.....possibly overwhelming Bahamian forces and leading to chaos ...with there migrant invasion.... The Bahamad has faced these hidden threats....and at this point almost black mail to Bahamians to keel over..... It is time these unusual provocations by the Haitian politicians to raise riot conditions in their country and leading to mass fleeing of their people creating instability in the region and neighbours be stopped immediately.!!!!!! Bahamian authorities must take this to the International authoritirs to stop this and comdemn this provocation in yhe strongest terms !!!!!

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DDK 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Hmmm, interesting..... Most revolts have an underlying helping hand.

Can anyone say why Government gave the Abaco shanty towns a year's extension? Missed that report.

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