St Kitts and Nevis government is awaiting information from other Caribbean countries that may want to accept the Cameroonians currently being housed at a holding center in that country.
So says St Kitts and Nevis Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas.
“We are awaiting either contact from other countries who may be willing to take them or from their contacts abroad back in Africa so that they eventually would be able to return home. But at the moment, there have been cared for. They are the guests of the government of Saint Kitts and Nevis”, Dr. Douglas told Twin Island Media on Wednesday.
The Cameroonians were rescued off the coast of St Kitts and Nevis on March 28 when a boat carrying them illegally to St Thomas capsized, killing 14 in the process
“The circumstances that led to their presence here are quite unfortunate. They have not sought asylum or anything of that kind as we would have had some Haitians a few weeks before that who had done so. So, the situation is very unclear to me” he said
The Kittitian government has not given any consideration to providing the Cameroonians with legal status
“It is a matter that we have not discussed, but I am certain that if the normal channels are gone through and we can substantiate reasons that they may give for wanting to stay here rather than return to their home, then of course it will become a matter of serious consideration”
“But at the moment I am not certain whether they have even requested to stay here in Saint Kitts and Nevis. We understand that some other countries have indicated some interest, but at the moment I am not aware that they have made any request to remain here in Saint Kitts and Nevis”, he explained
Antigua and Barbuda indicated earlier that they were willing to accept the Cameroonians but Prime Minister Gaston Browne had rescinded that decision.
He said the Cameroonians may try to escape illegally again since the twin island state was not their country of choice.
Dr. Douglas says that decision will not hinder the relationship between St Kitts and Antigua and Barbuda. He said no reason was given for Antigua and Barbuda’s change of heart on accepting the Cameroonians.
“I do not know if the reason was given to the Prime Minister and it has not yet filtered down to me, but I was not in any way informed. And so, I believe that the relationship has continued to be very cordial and productive. There’s nothing that has affected the relationship,” he said
The West Africans arrived in Antigua and Barbuda between November last year and February this year. They came in on chartered flights. Their final destination was never Antigua and Barbuda.
Most of the Cameroonians say they were tricked into believing that Antigua would be a transit port to take them to the United States
The trip to Antigua cost US$5000 according to the Cameroonians.