by Kevon Brown
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – WINN FM received notice during the night of September 20 that a vessel on the Atlantic side of the island’s waters was in distress and needed assistance.
Residents expressed concern about a plane circling in the Conaree area, but a Police report informed that there was no need for alarm because an aircraft from Martinique was assisting the St. Kitts-Nevis Coast Guard with the search.
The Police have not shared any specific details about the vessel. However, WINN received reports that the distressed vessel had passengers from Haiti aboard.
It is alleged that ten people were rescued, including a baby.
A resident of the Conaree/Canada Estate area told WINN what they witnessed from their home, stating –
“…there was an airplane flying in constant circles between Frigate Bay and Conaree/Canada. It was only at about 1500 feet, so it was flying low. I got out [my] binoculars and was able to see that it was a Dutch Coast Guard [aeroplane], a Dash-8. It appears there was a very concentrated search of the coast and land in that area. They circled for a very, very long time, round and round… it seems that there was some activity in the area that perhaps prompted our Coast Guard to request the assistance of the Dutch Coast Guard.”
WINN reached out to local attorney and advocate for free movement within CARICOM, Craig Tuckett – legal representative of the Haitians who illegally entered the country in February, to ask if he was contacted in relation to this group of people from the Caribbean territory.
Tuckett, who often references the Treaty of Chauguramas in his advocacy work, said he had not been contacted as yet but added, “Well, no one has approached me or contacted me about this incident that occurred last night in our shores. I know that it’s something that needs to be addressed from a National Security point of view and also from an immigration point of view, but also, [from] a CARICOM Treaty point of view, the Revised Treaty of Chaguramas. And so, no one has reached out to me as yet, and if they do, but if they do, I am willing to assist all persons whose legal rights and equitable rights need representing and protecting, I will stand up for them. So I am awaiting to see what happens going forward.”
St. Kitts and Nevis has seen several vessels in distress in 2023; 13 individuals illegally entered Nevis on February 02. The 13 individuals were intercepted when the captain of the vessel, a Dominican captain and a Haitian man came ashore at Gallows Bay and walked through Bath Village.
In March 2023, 16 individuals, subsequently identified as nationals of Cameroon, from a vessel 12 nautical miles south of Conaree, St. Kitts, were rescued.
For some time, the Caribbean region has seen a mass exodus of Haitian Nationals escaping their homeland in search of better lives and asylum in larger countries, especially the United States of America.
The exodus has been exacerbated since the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, followed by an earthquake a month later. The country was already reeling from the effects of COVID-19. Since 2021, the CARICOM country has experienced several earthquakes and storms that have battered the country. Haiti is now facing a considerable security issue where gangs have significant control over the country’s capital.
CARICOM leaders have pledged to help, Kenya has offered to send law enforcement personnel, and world leaders have called for more action to help the country restore its political, social and economic systems. However, action has yet to be taken, and the exodus continues.