The decision to send home the migrants was arrived at following extensive discussions with Haiti’s government, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM), CARICOM Secretary-General His Excellency Irwin LaRocque, the local arm of the Red Cross as well as the Haitian Association of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The migrants departed the Federation on chartered flights from Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport and were accompanied by essential personnel, including a security escort consisting of police and defense force officers, medication practitioners and translators.
Speaking at his press conference earlier today, Monday, November 04, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris commended the doctors, translators and security personnel who accompanied the migrants to their country “and thereby ensured that no harm befell any of them.”
“Here was the smallest country in our hemisphere setting the example of how we treat migrants in a manner surpassing international expectations and at the same time preserving their dignity and humanity,” Prime Minister Harris continued.
The 49 Haitian migrants arrived in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis in two separate incidents. The first instance was on Sunday, October 20, when police and immigration officials detained 15 migrants, 13 males and two females, one of whom is pregnant, after they arrived at the country’s shores by boat and attempted to check into a hotel without first clearing Immigration and Customs.
Then on Wednesday, October 23, the St. Kitts-Nevis Coast Guard assisted 34 Haitian migrants – 27 males and seven females, one of whom was juvenile and two of whom were pregnant – after their boat was reportedly in distress. The Dutch Coast Guard, which was patrolling nearby St. Maarten and was first on the scene, radioed the St. Kitts-Nevis Coast Guard and requested its assistance in rescuing the migrants and taking them to safety to the nearest port, which was Basseterre, St. Kitts, in accordance with international standards.
The circumstances surrounding the two incidents involving the migrants’ entry into the country are being actively investigated by the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the Immigration Department.