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More than 100 Haitian migrants found on island near Puerto Rico | Migration News

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The group located on the uninhabited Mona Island, which smugglers use as a landing point for ships leaving the Dominican Republic.

More than 100 Haitian immigrants are found on a deserted island near Puerto Rico, United States officials said as Haiti continues to recover from the humanitarian crisis caused by escalating gang violence.

Park rangers working for the Puerto Rico Department of Environment and Natural Resources found the group on Mona Island, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson Jeffrey Quinones said on Tuesday.

“What we knew beforehand was that these were only transported on a ship,” he said.

It was not immediately clear whether one of their groups had drowned before authorities had been notified. Quinones said authorities are continuing to negotiate with the immigrants.

Anais Rodriguez, the secretary of the Puerto Rico department who found them, said the group consisted of 60 women, 38 men and five children ages five to 13, three of whom were pregnant.

As the Caribbean nation experiences spiraling violence and political instability, in recent months, an increasing number of Haitian immigrants and asylum seekers have sought to reach the United States, mostly by sea.

The United Nations warned late last week that around 4.7 million people across the country are now facing acute hunger.

A gang blockade at Haiti’s main fuel terminal in the capital, Port-au-Prince, has led to severe shortages of electricity, water and food, especially in already poor areas of the city where violence is rampant.

Hospitals have had to cut services as a result of the lack of gasoline needed for generators, and a collapsing healthcare network has complicated efforts to respond to a dangerous cholera epidemic.

Meanwhile, the Haitian government has urged the international community to help build a “specialized armed force” to respond to the gangs – but Haitian civil society leaders dismissed the possibility of outside intervention.

The US and Mexico are working on Security Council resolutions in response to the ongoing crisis, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday.

Thomas-Greenfield said the first would impose financial sanctions on Haitian “criminal actors” involved in the recent violence, while the second would “authorize a non-UN, international security assistance mission” in Haiti to restore security and aid flow. within the scope of humanitarian aid.

It remains unclear which countries will participate and in what capacity. Thomas-Greenfield said the mission would be led by a “partner country”, but did not say which.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre also avoided questions about the potential Haitian mission on Tuesday, telling reporters at a news conference only that “talks are ongoing.”

As the security situation worsens in Haiti after the murder of President Jovenel Moise last year and conditions worsen in host communities elsewhere in the Americas, new waves of Haitian asylum seekers have made their way to the United States.

On Sunday, the US Coast Guard said it rescued about 100 people, most of them Haiti, from an overcrowded boat off the Florida coast. Passengers told Coast Guard crews that they had been at sea for a week and had been short of food and water for the past two days.

Meanwhile, from October 2021 to March, 571 Haitians and 252 people from the Dominican Republic were detained in waters around Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, according to CBP. 348 Haitians landed on Mona Island and were rescued.

Quinones said smugglers often use Mona Island as a drop-off point for ships leaving the Dominican Republic, and they often tell immigrants they reach Puerto Rico even though Mona Island is uninhabited and uninhabitable.

“Smugglers have no respect for the safety of the people they are carrying. “They’re basically piling them on a boat,” he said.