The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis took every effort to ensure that the 49 Haitian migrants repatriated back to their homeland Thursday, Oct. 31 were treated humanely and were afforded the best possible care while in the Federation, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said Monday at his monthly press conference.
The decision to send the migrants home 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 accompanied by essential personnel, including a security escort consisting of police and defense force officers, medication practitioners and translators.
“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 said, commending the doctors, translators and security personnel who accompanied the migrants to their country.
The 49 Haitian migrants arrived in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis in two separate incidents. The first instance was on Oct. 20, when police and immigration officials detained 15 migrants after they arrived at the country’s shores by boat and attempted to check into a hotel without first clearing Immigration and Customs.
The second was on Oct. 23, when the St. Kitts-Nevis Coast Guard, in conjunction with the Dutch Coast Guard, assisted 34 Haitian migrants after their boat was reportedly in distress, taking them to safety to the nearest port, Basseterre, St. Kitts, in accordance with international standards.
The circumstances surrounding the two are being actively investigated by the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the Immigration Department.