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9821: Attacks Thwart Haiti Immigrants (fwd)

From: MKarshan@aol.com

Attacks Thwart Haiti Immigrants

.c The Associated Press

ILE-A-VACHE, Haiti (AP) - Ramshackle boats once bound for U.S. shores lie 
idle on this rugged island since the disappearance of more than 200 migrants 
who braved the seas a month ago in search of a better life in the United 

Rough waters and heightened security since the Sept. 11 terror attacks are 
making such trips nearly impossible, according to dozens of migrants turned 
back at sea by authorities. 

But for families of the missing, the warnings are too late. 

Authorities fear two vessels - one carrying 150 people, the other 63 - could 
have perished off Ile-a-Vache, where pirate Henry Morgan's ship sank after 
hitting a reef in the 17th century. 

Among the missing is 20-year-old Rose Carmel Jean-Louis, who sold her gold 
necklace and a bicycle to pay for the $600 journey. 

``Our economic problems are enormous,'' her cousin, Calixte Douyon, said 
Friday. ``She believed she would make it, otherwise she wouldn't have sold 
all her things to pay for the ticket.'' 

``We don't know what to do,'' said Wilnes Louissdor, a social worker whose 
brother was aboard the boat with 63 people, along with Jean-Louis. ``We're 
all sitting on pins and needles, just waiting for news.'' 

Several boats made it to the Bahamas, where authorities have either sent 
migrants back home or detained them. 

Another boatload of 131 Haitians landed on Jamaica's north coast on Nov. 18. 
Of those, 125 have been repatriated and six are applying for asylum. 

No one has heard from any of the 150 aboard a boat that left a month ago from 
Ile-a-Vache, off Haiti's southwest coast. The vessel was described as 
40-feet-long with a single sail and a motor, as well as a fresh coat of gray 
and black paint. It had no name. 

``My cousins were aboard that boat and I have not heard from them,'' said 
Vesta Saint-Cyr. She identified them as Vita Pierre, 23, and Franz Pierre, 
19, and other passengers as Leon Duvierseau, 22, Pascal Joseph and Altenor 
Mentor. She said the boat captain was called Dieudonne. 

Yolene Pierre said her sister in Miami had received a call from her brother, 
David Celestin, saying his boat had made it to Jamaica. She said he was 
aboard the boat with 63 people. But Jamaican officials say only one boat with 
131 people landed in Jamaica and Celestin's name was not among the six asylum 

``Everyone has the same worries of how to make ends meet,'' Esperand 
Dominique, the government's regional director of social affairs, said in 
explaining why people were desperate enough to board rickety and overcrowded 
boats. ``(People's) fundamental needs are not being met.'' 

He said 10 more trips were planned before the end of the year but had been 
canceled after repatriated Haitians warned of the high risks. 

``We have high-endurance cutters, planes and helicopters all participating in 
patrols,'' said Luis Diaz, spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard in Miami. 
``After Sept. 11, all that has increased.'' 

Boats built to reach U.S. shores now are being used for fishing and hauling 
charcoal from Ile-a-Vache. 

Haiti has been mired in crisis since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party 
won 80 percent of seats in parliamentary elections last year that the 
opposition alleges were rigged. Hundreds of millions of dollars in 
international aid have been frozen until some results are revised. The U.S. 
Congressional Black Caucus recently urged President Bush to release U.S. 

On this week's first anniversary of Aristide's re-election, party spokesman 
Yvon Neptune blamed ``the economic blocking that raises unemployment, poverty 
and death.'' 

Migrants often leave in November and December because they think U.S. patrols 
are more lax during the holidays. They almost always get word to relatives in 
Haiti or the United States if their journeys succeed. Sometimes, those left 
behind have to assume the worse. 

``We can find no confirmation to see if they are dead or not,'' said Samedi 
Florvil, outreach director with the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami. 

AP-NY-11-30-01 1556EST