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9822: Hope dims for 200-plus Haitians (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Published Saturday, December 1, 2001
Hope dims for 200-plus Haitians
BY CHARLES RABIN
Hope diminished on Friday that at least some of the 200-plus Haitian
migrants believed missing at sea might really be alive in Jamaica.
Most of the 131 Haitians who landed in Jamaica Nov. 21 were repatriated last
weekend, while relatives of the missing say they still have not heard
anything from those who left Ile-a-Vache off Haiti's south coast in two
boats on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.
Family and friends in the United States are beginning to come to terms with
the probable loss of their loved ones.
``It's really painful to think there are family members still out there
suffering,'' said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of
Miami. ``We don't know where to look now. . . . Our hopes are fading.''
Bastien said she recently spoke to a man from Boston who said he had 13
family members aboard one of the missing boats.
The community's hopes were buoyed by a story that ran last week in a Jamaica
newspaper called The Weekly Gleaner that told of the 131 Haitians crammed
into a 35-foot boat landing at Falmouth on the Jamaican coast almost two
The story said most were hungry and dehydrated, but otherwise well, and that
they had been on the rough seas for five days. Though the name of only one
of those survivors was used in the story, copies of the story were quickly
passed throughout the community, one even reaching Washington, D.C.
``They did land here,'' said Shirley Bylfield, a senior public relations
officer for Jamaica's Ministry of National Security. ``But we're still not
quite sure where from. We heard they were from Haiti and going to Miami.''
But most of those people already have been sent back to Haiti.
The Haitian consulates in Miami and Washington still believe the Ile-a-Vache
boats are missing.
Milka Macena a part-time consulate worker in Washington, said she has two
cousins who were aboard the missing boats, Ernso and Neslene Leger.
``I've been looking for them since the beginning of the month,'' Macena
said. ``Nobody can tell me anything. I've tried everywhere. My boss is
trying to contact other embassies.''
Friday afternoon, Gérald Victor, director of the Haitian Consulate in Miami
released a statement:
The Consulate ``shares the concerns of the community and continues to
collect information on the subject.''
He requested that anyone with information on any of the passengers to call
the Consulate at 305-859-2003.
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