UNHCR to submit report on migrants today

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Today, the government will receive preliminary findings from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), on the African migrant situation in Antigua and Barbuda.

On an invitation from the government, representatives from several international organizations, arrived on island about two weeks ago, to interview the West Africans who have been living in Antigua for several months.

They arrived via several chartered flights between December and February. While many have left the island legally and possibly illegally, hundreds are still in Antigua and Barbuda.

The team was made up of seven members, representing the UNHCR, the International Migration Organization (IMO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

About 125 African migrants were interviewed during their investigations.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Daven Joseph accompanied the officials and he said the information gathered will help the government in the formulation of a policy going forward.

“The government is expected to use the findings of the report to make a determination on whether to repatriate the West Africans to Cameroon, their native land or to assimilate them into the local society. For example, if the government decided to repatriate them to their homeland there are a number of international obligations to which the government must adhere. Secondly, if the decision is to assimilate them then the socio-economic capacity of the country would be called into question,” Joseph said

Chief Immigration Officer, Katrina Yearwood also formed part of the discussions.

They all encouraged the Africans not to attempt to leave the country illegally putting their lives in danger.

“They have expressed gratitude at the hospitality they have received and are thankful for the assistance they have received from some members of the society. However, they don’t feel comfortable with the fact that they are the cause for some measure of the political divide and they have expressed fears about their own safety,” Joseph explained

Several Cameroonians perished in the boat off the coast of St Kitts on Tuesday, March 28th

The Cameroonians left Antigua on the La Belle Michelle, a French vessel. The boat which was captained by an Antiguan capsized in the Caribbean sea, about 12 nautical miles off the coast of St Kitts.

Half of those on the boat were rescued by a luxury yacht named Genevieve. About 14 people have not been found. The search was called off three days after the incident. All missing Cameroonians may have died.

The surviving Cameroonians and two Antiguans are in St Kitts and Nevis. They are expected to return to the twin island state soon.


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