By LEANDRA ROLLE
and EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporters
PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis says if CARICOM decides that the Haitian situation requires the deployment of security troops, then The Bahamas “will abide by the outcome” of the organisation’s resolution.
Once that decision is made in collaboration with the United Nations, National Security Minister Wayne Munroe said the country will be “ready, willing and able to deploy” Royal Bahamas Defence Force marines to the troubled state.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister further called on Bahamians to be vigilant in protecting the country’s borders amid worsening conditions in Haiti. Not only is that country facing a serious social crisis, but there is also both a crime and economic crisis ongoing.
“We have to keep continuing to be vigilant to protect our borders and we hope that the international community will come to the aid of Haiti and address some of the issues to stop the irregular migration,” Mr Davis told reporters yesterday following the swearing in of a cohort of new diplomats.
Mr Davis was asked about his administration’s plans in response to the continued exodus of Haitian citizens amid increasing social and political turmoil there.
Asked yesterday if The Bahamas would support a UN resolution to deploy security troops there, Prime Minister Davis: “We will abide by the outcome of that resolution.”
The Bahamas is one of the lead heads of a CARICOM committee that has been given the responsibility of ensuring that a solution is found.
On Monday night, a meeting was held between CARICOM heads and Prime Minister Davis via Zoom concerning ongoing issues in Haiti.
“Discussions are still continuing,” the prime minister said when asked about the outcome of those talks. “We are trying to work out a strategic position as to what has to happen. I think the consensus is intervention is necessary but the manner (regarding) which scope we will take is still an issue for us to discuss”.
Conditions in Haiti have deteriorated in recent years especially following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last July.
According to labour officials, more than 1,800 irregular migrants have already been repatriated to Haiti from The Bahamas so far for the year.
Meanwhile, Mr Munroe said ahead of a Cabinet meeting that The Bahamas will be responsible with its decision making in the matter.
This comes after Mr Munroe revealed on Friday that The Bahamas may be called to be a part of a United Nations multinational force in response to growing social unrest in Haiti.
Mr Munroe explained the country has previously participated in the UN peacekeeping mission to Haiti and noted the other assistance given to the neighboring country.
“We already have a Memorandum of Understanding to assist in training the Haitian national police, because the Haitian national police is the body that has to police Haiti,” he said.
“If a determination is made amongst CARICOM that the CARICOM nations are going to participate in a force, The Bahamas will necessarily, as a CARICOM nation particularly with the prime minister as chair of CARICOM, play our part.”
He added: “If CARICOM determines to send troops in, CARICOM will no doubt know how that troop makeup will be, which could include the Bahamian troops.”
The prime minister will assume chairmanship of CARICOM next month.
Asked what the decision will be should The Bahamas be asked to assist, Mr Munroe said: “If that is the determination, the defense force will be ready, willing and able to deploy – that’s what we have them for. People get this impression that they just sit down doing nothing.
“They sit down preparing for deployments to protect the national interests of The Bahamas. The national interests of The Bahamas overarchingly, is to see peace in this region and if we are called upon to provide men we will.”
Mr Munroe explained one of the biggest problems or issues that the Royal Bahamas Defence Force addresses is irregular migration from Haiti.
“So, we already expend resources addressing the issue of Haitians leaving Haiti, because of desperate circumstances. We’ll have to wait and see what the UN resolution says. We’ll have to wait and see what CARICOM decides because we don’t really act regionally but we’ll be a responsible country, if there are resolutions that ask for assistance in Haiti and consider it - we’ll consider it.”
He said the Haitian problem is a “complex one”. Moreover, there is no point going and then when one leaves there are no structures that lend for peace.
“And so that’s been the problem. We sent in peacekeepers and we’re right back to the stage again. So, there has to be a comprehensive solution for Haiti, but The Bahamas will play its fair part in resolving any issue that the world community decides needs to be.”
As for logistics, he said it will be a matter for, RBDF, CARICOM and UN.
“I’m not a military planner but even as a layman, you could think most of our squadron is deployed to the southern Bahamas to prevent Haitians leaving Haiti coming up.
“So, if you deploy men in Haiti that could stop Haitian hitting the water - wouldn’t that relieve the pressure on the people who are guarding the southern regions of The Bahamas. Everything we do classically with our man powers and the Bahamian national interest.
“We send officers to the Turks and Caicos because we have a large connection to them in Grand Bahama, where there was an upswing in gun violence earlier this year. So, we’re concerned about our national interest wherever people live that we are required to check, we will check and we have interest all over and the only issue is how we service those interests.”