UNHCR saddened by deaths at sea off the coast of the Bahamas
News comment attributable to Matt Reynolds, UNHCR Representative to the United States and the Caribbean
WASHINGTON, D.C. - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency is deeply saddened by loss of at least 17 individuals who drowned after a boat capsized near the coast of the Bahamas early Sunday morning. The individuals on the vessel appear to be Haitian nationals.
Reports suggest an estimated 50 people were onboard the 2-engine vessel when it capsized. 25 individuals were rescued and at least 17, including women and children, perished during the incident.
The unstable situation in Haiti has led to waves of mixed movements departing the country in recent years. Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in gang-related violence, amid natural disasters, food insecurity and a lack of employment and livelihood opportunities. As a result of the dire humanitarian and security conditions, the number of people leaving Haiti by sea has risen sharply in recent months.
UNHCR commends the rescue efforts of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force that saved the lives of 25 people. Rescue at sea is a humanitarian imperative and an obligation under international law. Coordination, solidarity, and responsibility-sharing is key in order to respond effectively to the increasing number of dangerous voyages by sea.
UNHCR stands ready to work with the government of the Bahamas, and with governments in the region, to provide support as may be required, including building the capacity to ensure that people who are in need of international protection receive it promptly and fairly, and to assist with the humanitarian response for new arrivals.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
• In Washington, D.C., Andrea Mucino-Sanchez, [email protected]