Nearly 200 Haitian immigrants were attempting to sneak into the country when their sloop was intercepted by Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) officials near Rose Island on Wednesday morning.
According to RBDF Senior Lieutenant Carlon Bethell, the immigrants were trying to enter through the western side of the Nassau Harbour.
He said the fact that they made it so close to landfall on that side of the island poses a great concern.
“It confirms some of our assumptions and some of the research we’ve been doing lately which is that the trends, the routes have been changing,” he said.
“We’ve been very effective closing off some of the routes in the central Bahamas but with then being more innovative, they’re taking longer, more dangerous routes coming around the ocean side in the north eastern part of the country which is what we’ve seen and this is evident of that right now.”
When our news team arrived at the RBDF’s East Bay Street Harbour Patrol Unit Facility, the immigrants were seen sitting in groups along the lawn waiting to be transported to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for processing.
But even as those large groups sat and waited, marines were seen transporting immigrants in smaller vessels from the apprehended sloop and conducting routine checks as they arrived on land.
Lt. Bethell said two Dominicans may have also been aboard the 50 foot sloop and added that due to the treacherous journey, many of the immigrants were weak and dehydrated.
Some were even unable to stand for inspection and had to be assisted by officers.
Among the group was 27-year-old Haitian national, John Surlin, who said they left Haiti last Thursday and made the dangerous journey in search of a better life.
“It’s hard to take a boat, spend so many days without eating and go thirsty but we would love to stay back home but the life is just hard,” Surlin said.
He added that the group ran out of food two days ago.
The immigrant said he only wants to have an opportunity to go to technical school and have a job to survive.
Surlin went on to say that jobs and educational opportunities are needed for the people of Haiti and that he may not make this trip to Nassau again but would find a way out of Haiti somehow for a better life.