The United States Coast Guard says it rescued 151 Haitian migrants and handed them over to the Royal Bahamian Defense Force on Friday.
“The transfer is a combination of two separate interdiction cases in which Coast Guard aircrews and cutter crews located and rescued these migrants,” the US Coast Guard said.
Over loaded freighter
First, It said a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew had located an overloaded 40-foot Haitian sail freighter Friday about 35 miles south of Ragged Island, Bahamas.
“The Coast Guard Cutter Seneca was diverted to the scene, and safely interdicted and embarked 78 migrants,” Coast Guard officials said.
It the other incident, the Coast Guard said it interdicted 73 migrants on an overloaded 50-foot Haitian sail freighter Wednesday, seven miles southwest of Great Inagua, Bahamas.
Florida Straits dangerous, unforgiving
“The Caribbean and Florida Straits are dangerous and unforgiving for migrants on illegal and ill-advised voyages in overloaded vessels with little or no safety gear needlessly placing lives at risk,” said Cmdr. Willie Carmichael, deputy chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard’s 7th District.
“The Coast Guard and its partner agencies continue to maintain a strong presence along our maritime border. We will continue to interdict and rescue those who embark on these illegal voyages in unsafe vessels such as these ones,” he added.
Under the Comprehensive Maritime Agreement between the governments of the United States and the Bahamas, the Coast Guard said all migrants, regardless of nationality, country of origin or age, falling under Bahamian jurisdiction are transferred to the Bahamas, where they are processed in accordance with Bahamian and International Law.
The majority will likely be repatriated to their country of origin, the Coast Guard said.