Starving, abandoned Haitians tell police of cruel, inhumane treatment
Some 50 starving and abandoned Haitian nationals were on Sunday rescued by law enforcement officials after they were found wandering along the Linden/Lethem trail in desperate need of food and water.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, said the Haitians have since told the police, in whose care they remain until transported to Georgetown, of a harrowing experience.
The Haitians, two of whom are reportedly children just 2-years-old, said they were left in the bushes for seven days with limited food and water.
“This is the inhuman treatment and cruel suffering these people go through and they have told the police all about it,” Nandlall told the News Room on Monday, mere days after the government was forced to rescind visa-free travel for Haitians to Guyana.
He said the foreigners claimed that they were left there after they refused to pay increasing fees for transportation to be taken to the border and frequent request to pay police along the way.
“It is a human rights tragedy, a smuggling of people ring… we are seeing all the trappings of it. It is well organised and it is well orchestrated and a lot of money is involved.
“We don’t know where they came from, we don’t know where they were going and how can a government not react in the face of such human rights travesty and tragedy. For a government not to act would be an unfortunate derogation of responsibility,” the Attorney General said.
Nandlall said with thousands of Haitians entering Guyana with no record of them leaving, the government is now unaware of how many cases like this there are.
He said only last Friday, over 40 persons of Haitian nationality were found at a hotel in New Amsterdam; they, however, had their legal papers for entry and stay in Guyana.
“I don’t know how many pockets of people are in this country secluded at various places,” the AG added.
In November, 2020, it was noted that 26 Haitian nationals were discovered by police officers in a city hotel and in a minibus on the Linden-Mabura Road. Of the people discovered, ten nationals were adult males, nine were adult females while seven were children (including two boys and five girls).
In February 2021, the Brazilian Federal Police arrested 26 Haitians who entered Bom Fim illegally from Guyana through Lethem. Then, earlier this month, local police arrested a number of Haitians in close vicinity to Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo).
Earlier in June, also, at a hotel in Region Six , 10 Haitian nationals were found at the Swiss Hotel, Skeldon, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice- Corentyne). It was reported that the Nationals said they were left there by person(s) who they claimed brought them into Guyana through Suriname and took away their passports and other documents.
Over the last six years, a total of 42,100 Haitian nationals are recorded to have arrived in Guyana, according to figures confirmed by the News Room, but of that number, only 3,913 persons are recorded to have departed.
This means that a total of 38,187 Haitians are unaccounted for but local authorities do not believe they are here. The figures have given rise to the suspicion that the Haitians are a part of a human trafficking and human smuggling ring of international proportions using Guyana as a transshipment point to get to other countries.
A look at the figures for the first five months of 2021 shows that while 1, 378 Haitians arrived in the country, only 165 departed, leaving 1,213 unaccounted for.