June 12, 2021

Update on Cuban migrant situation in Cayman Islands

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Fifteen Cuban migrants prepare to set sail in their 14-foot homemade boat after a brief overnight stop offshore Grand Cayman Island, November 21, 2014. REUTERS/Peter Polack

Fifteen Cuban migrants prepare to set sail in their 14-foot homemade boat after a brief overnight stop offshore Grand Cayman Island, November 21, 2014. REUTERS/Peter Polack

(GIS) On Tuesday 9 February 2016 the Immigration Department took back into custody the last of seven migrants who had escaped from the East End Civic Centre the previous Friday night (6 February).

At present only two migrants who went missing from a landing site at Beach Bay at the end of January remain at large.

Immigration officials urge members of the public not to approach any person whom they suspect to be a missing migrant. Instead individuals should contact 911, Immigration enforcement officers, or the nearest branch of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) at these numbers:

Emergency Communications

911

Immigration Enforcement:

Jeremy Scott- ‎526-7937

Joey Scott- 526-0433

Garry Wong‎- 526-0480

RCIPS – District Police Stations

George Town– 949-4222

Bodden Town– 649-2220

East End– 649-7411

North Side– 649-9411

West Bay 649-3999

One hundred twenty two Cuban migrants have landed in the Cayman Islands, from 1st January 2016 to date. A total of 123 are presently in Immigration custody. A further 17 are on a boat in local waters waiting out bad weather.

Acknowledging strong local support for the migrants, officials note that international law prohibits the Cayman Islands from facilitating illegal migration. This extends, they say, to the public assisting migrants, on land or in local waters, with food, shelter, transportation, or other forms of comfort.

Although persons who arrive in such a manner are detained pending a repatriation process, the Cayman Islands Government is responsible for ensuring that they are able to access resources necessary for health and well-being while in custody. This includes food, clothes and medical treatment.

“All rights and privileges are extended to these migrants according to local and international laws and conventions,” states Acting Chief Immigration Office Bruce Smith.

The Immigration Department notes that the restriction on assistance is in part due to the dangerous and potentially fatal journey such individuals face.

In 2014 the United Nations (UN) estimated that 73 migrants had gone missing in the Caribbean area. International organisations believe the 2015 number to be higher due to increased migrant travel.

With the Immigration Detention Centre at capacity, migrants are presently being housed in the Bodden Town and East End Civic Centres and other locations. Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service and the Immigration Department oversee both locations.

Since the current financial year began in July 2015 the Cayman Islands Government has spent an estimated CI$870,000 on migrants.

Fifty two migrants have been repatriated since the start of 2016.

END

IMAGE: Fifteen Cuban migrants prepare to set sail in their 14-foot homemade boat after a brief overnight stop offshore Grand Cayman Island, November 21, 2014 – REUTERS

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