Haiti food crisis sparking new wave of “boat people”?

At least 20 Haitians fleeing their impoverished homeland were killed when their boat went down off the Bahamas April 20, leaving only three known survivors—including an alleged migrant smuggler from Honduras, according to the US Coast Guard (AP, April 22) The news comes as World Food Program chief Josette Sheeran called soaring global food prices a “silent tsunami,” warning that hundreds of millions worldwide are facing famine. (Radio Netherlands, April 23)

The director for Haiti’s national migration office, Jeanne Bernard Pierre, said that since the food crisis began, her agency has received more repatriated Haitian boat people in a week than it used to receive in a month or more. “We have received 212 repatriated last week, we have just received 227 and we are receiving 114 tomorrow,” Pierre told Reuters.

“It is clear that more boat people have been leaving the country and you should expect even more if they cannot find an alternative,” said Pierre, who urged the government and the international community to set up programs to address the crisis. The US Coast Guard has intercepted 972 Haitian migrants at sea since Oct. 1, compared with 376 during the same period last year. (Reuters, April 23)

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