By JADE RUSSELL
A HAITIAN official urged his countrymen not to take dangerous voyages at sea, as nine unidentified women who died in a human smuggling operation were buried on Saturday.
Police suspect that some 45 people were travelling to Florida from New Providence on July 24 when their boat capsized in rough seas near Blackbeard’s Cay.
The boating tragedy left 17 Haitians dead, including a pregnant woman and two minors, while several people are believed to be still missing.
According to officials, six of the 17 people who died from the tragedy have been identified.
Five of the victims are listed as follows: Mary Saimphorin, Kourtney Volmyr, Annette Mesidor, Bobley Fertilus, and Altanice Ivroy.
The funeral of the nine “Jane Does” was held at Loyola Hall on Gladstone Road on Saturday. No public viewing was allowed.
Some representatives of the Haitian community showed their support somberly watching the caskets of the nine women being displayed.
The overall attendance of the service was scarce and no government officials were present.
However, Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander was in attendance and shared his sadness over the tragedy.
The newly appointed Haitian Chargé d’affaires Louis Harold Joseph, who spoke Creole and was assisted by a translator, gave his sympathy for the victims and urged the Haitian community not to partake in smuggling operations.
“Brothers and sisters listen clearly. They (the victims) were seeking a better life and they lost their lives. We must learn from this capsize,” Mr Joseph said.
“Yes, we have a lot of problems in Haiti but that does not mean just to leave Haiti in any condition. Don’t believe that we can just go on any organised voyage, that they love us — those people are only seeking to make money. If they did really love us they would have greater precautions in what they do,” Mr Joseph said.
During his remarks, Mr Joseph also highlighted the government of The Bahamas’ support to the Haitian community. He continued: “We must do everything in our power not to abuse the hospitality that the Bahamian people and the government has shown to us.”
For his part, Dr Antoine St Louis, president of the United Association of Haitians and Bahamians, shared similar sentiments urging Haitians not to take such deadly voyages.
Mr Louis spoke to The Tribune after the funeral service on Saturday.
“It is our prayer that such a thing never happens again. That everyone who has a family will tell them this is not the way. We call those people who took their (victims) money gangsters, that’s what they are. They do not care about lives, they just care about making money.
“They are not helping the people, they are just making life worse for them,” he continued.
Additionally, consultant Louby Georges told The Tribune that no one would be satisfied with the turnout of the service, he noted a lot of people were not even aware of the funeral being held on Saturday.
Mr Georges, a member of the Haitian Bahamian community, said many people did show interest in coming. but were unfortunately unaware.
The managing director of Legacy Memorial who did the funeral arrangements for the victims held back tears as she spoke about the tragedy of the unidentified women.
The victims were reportedly laid to rest at the Southern Cemetery also known as Spikenard Cemetery.
K4C 5 months, 3 weeks ago
WHY is the Bahamas spending money for funerals as this, ?
tribanon 5 months, 3 weeks ago
Why weren't the bodies of these illegal aliens put in zip-locked hermetically sealed corpse bags and shipped back to Haiti to be laid to rest their by their family members or the Haitian government?
joeblow 5 months, 3 weeks ago
... illegal immigrants who die en route should be cremated. If the families here or in Haiti want the bodies, they should be made to pay for the autopsy and release for the bodies to be shipped back to Haiti. We have limited land space here for graveyards and dead illegals should not be given any of that limited space!
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