Haitian boat refugees captured off Turks and Caicos

The first known group of Haitians fleeing the country by boat since the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake has been picked up off the Turks and Caicos islands.

Haitian boat refugees captured off Turks and Caicos

The first known group of Haitians fleeing the country by boat since the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake has been picked up off the Turks and Caicos islands.

Authorities in the British overseas territory said it was unclear if the 122 people on the craft, which was intercepted by marine police on Wednesday, had left because of the quake or were trying to escape poverty.

The Haitians are being held in a sports complex rather than sent back. The Turks and Caicos last week suspended the deportation of illegal Haitians, saying, "Clearly it will be some time before the situation in Haiti returns to anything approaching normal."

The earthquake killed up to 200,000 people and left nearly a million homeless in the impoverished Caribbean country.

Haitians regularly risk the 90-mile (145-km) voyage north to the Turks and Caicos in overcrowded, unseaworthy boats. Most vessels are caught, but some reach shore undetected and others crash on reefs surrounding the popular tourist destination.

The Turks and Caicos Islands have about 30,000 residents, many of whom are Haitians.


Reuters

Last Mod: 31 Ocak 2010, 15:06
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