Haitian nationals were aboard a crowded and “unseaworthy” ship heading for the coast of Florida, according to the coast guard.
The United States Coast Guard removed 176 Haitians from an overloaded and dilapidated boat as it approached the Florida coast, officials said Monday evening, amid a surge in the number of Haitians fleeing the Caribbean nation in crisis.
The rescue effort came on Monday, after U.S. border and navy officials spotted the 18-meter (60-foot) vessel some 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the Bahamas, reported said the coast guard in a press release.
“It is extremely dangerous to navigate the Straits of Florida on a ship in poor condition, especially off the Florida Keys where the water is extremely dangerous with shoals and reefs,” said the Chief Warrant Officer James Kinney.
“Thanks to the rapid coordination between so many different agencies, no lives were lost in this ban.”
#HappenedToday @USCG crews intercepted, helped to rescue 176 Haitians aboard an overloaded sailboat on Monday, near Ocean Reef. According to testimonies, 10 people were hospitalized. Sea condition: 4-6 feet, winds 20 mph.
– USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) January 11, 2022
Crews worked with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to arrest the people, after providing personal flotation devices to those aboard the boat, who lacked basic rescue equipment and lights. navigation, officials said.
Ten people were taken to hospital with symptoms of dehydration.
The rescue comes amid a marked increase in migration from Haiti, which has been hit by a series of crises in recent months, including an increase in gang-related violence and kidnappings following the assassination in July of President Jovenel Moise.
In August, Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed homes in the southwest of the country.
The country has also suffered from crippling fuel shortages that began in October after a coalition of gangs blocked access to fuel terminals, forcing some businesses and hospitals to partially or completely shut down.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s Senate met again on Monday for the first time in a year with just a few lawmakers in attendance.
The 30-member Senate currently has only 10 lawmakers, as the country did not hold legislative elections initially scheduled for October 2019. The vote was subsequently postponed several times following the murder of Moise.
Of those 10 Senate members, only about seven showed up on Monday.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry has pledged to hold a general election this year, but he did not provide a specific date – and Haitian civil society figures have criticized the pressure to hold elections as the country remains in operation. plagued by widespread violence and instability.
US Coast Guard statistics show that in the past three months it has returned 557 Haitians – up sharply from the previous fiscal year, when 1,527 Haitians were rescued at the end of the year.
The agency said 418 Haitians were rescued in 2020.
Recap since Sep 19, 21 #Delrio: beyond the numbers, #migrants still figuring out where they are and what they can do. Jobs is the # 1 request. The next favorite destination is 🇺🇸. Increase boats and trips to #DirDir for new routes. Return flights to #Haiti Keep going. @IOMHaiti @UNmigration pic.twitter.com/HGFT8bD5BF
– Giuseppe Loprete (@g_loprete) January 3, 2022
In September, nearly 15,000 Haitians gathered under an international bridge in south Texas, near the US-Mexico border, hoping to seek asylum in the United States. But the Biden administration expelled the vast majority of them.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations agency for migration, the United States deported more than 12,000 Haitians between September 19 and December 31 of last year.
As the United States continues to deport most Haitians under a pandemic-era rule that allows border officials to quickly turn back migrants without processing their asylum claims, many have been trapped in Mexico .
Last month, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) recorded a seven-fold increase in the number of Haitians seeking asylum in Mexico, from 5,935 applications for all of 2020 to 47,494 between January and November 2021.