Bahamas: 28 Haitian migrants drown in illegal crossing

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Bahamas: 28 Haitian migrants drown in illegal crossing

Image copyright HECTOR RETAMAL
Image caption Haiti is the poorest economy in the Caribbean

The bodies of 28 drowned Haitian migrants have been recovered off the coast of the Bahamas, officials say.

It comes after operations over the weekend by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) rescued 17 survivors.

A boat that had been transporting the migrants sank six miles (9.7km) off the coast of Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands, to the north of the country.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Caribbean and 60% of the population live on less than $2 (£1.53) a day.

Illegal attempts by Haitians to get to the Bahamas or nearby Turks and Caicos are common.

On the island of Fowl Cay, the nearest island to where the boat sank, villas at a luxury resort cost up to $4,328 a night.

In a tweet, the US embassy in Haiti warned Haitians of the threat that smuggling operations posed.

Skip Twitter post by @USEmbassyHaiti

Another tragic loss of life, as 17 Haitians drown and 30 more just rescued from a vessel trafficking people out of Haiti. No journey is worth risking lives – please urge families and communities: Illegal migrant & smuggling operations are dangerous and frequently end in tragedy. pic.twitter.com/3DHH29z976

— U.S. Embassy Haiti (@USEmbassyHaiti) February 3, 2019

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End of Twitter post by @USEmbassyHaiti

Since the beginning of 2019, 300 Haitians have been caught trying to illegally enter the Bahamas.

The RBDF says that about six boats carrying 80-90 migrants often arrive at one time.

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The migrants are usually intercepted at sea and transferred to the immigration department, from where they are often deported back to Haiti.

Since the devastating 2010 earthquake, 60,000 Haitian migrants have been granted temporary residency in the United States.

President Trump announced he was ending the programmer in 2017, but this has been repeatedly challenged in court.

Image copyright Spencer Platt
Image caption Protests against Trump's decision to evict Haitians from the US

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