Haitians said to be putting strain on Portland purse
Gareth Davis Sr, Gleaner Writer
Claiming they were fleeing economic hardships, 25 Haitians, including a baby girl who was born in Jamaica, landed at Kensington in Portland yesterday morning.
The group, which comprised 16 adult males, two adult females, four boys and three girls, landed approximately 6:20 a.m. Tuesday along the rocky coastal shore of that beach area, and were later processed and treated.
Tyrone Archer, inspector at the Manchioneal station in the parish, said the refugees claimed to have left their homeland last week Monday along with eight other boats. However, their intended destination was the United States.
The police also recovered several pieces of documentation from the stowaways, and among them was a birth document which revealed that among the group was a two-year-old girl who was born at the Port Antonio Hospital in April 2010.
In good health
The Haitians appeared to be in good health and were later transferred to the Port Antonio Seventh-day Adventist Church facility, where they are to be kept until Friday.
The sudden arrival of the Haitian boat people is reportedly putting a serious strain on the parish's resources, which will pose a challenge to adequately provide for the refugees.
According to Port Antonio Mayor Benny White, resources are already depleted as a result of Hurricane Sandy, which impacted several residents in October.
White said state agencies, civil society groups and donors would have to come on board to ensure that adequate food, water, bedding equipment and clothing are provided for the Haitians.
The last time Haitians landed in Portland was March 2010, when 64 refugees arrived in two groups, including three criminals who allegedly escaped from prison during a massive earthquake which devastated that country.