(Real News) The 14 Cameroonians who were rescued at sea in late March will be
allowed to integrate into the St. Kitts and Nevis society after having
staged an alleged hunger strike while in custody.
The government there confirms that the West Africans will be
released from the detention centre where they have been housed for
nearly three months now, and relocated to an apartment complex
for the next three months while their applications for asylum are in
The Cameroonians were expected to be taken to a Bird Rock
location on Sunday, June 11, and are now free to go about the
country at will, while the St. Kitts and Nevis Government remain
responsible for their care.
Last week, June 10, the West Africans received their United Nations-
issued Asylum Seeker Certificates after the UNHCR granted them
such status two days before.
This means they are protected against forced repatriation to their
country of birth and are entitled to continued humanitarian care
while their asylum requests are being processed.
According to reports, several of the migrants began a hunger strike,
starting last Friday afternoon, because they were unhappy with the
conditions under which they were housed. They had been kept
under tight security at the detention centre and prevented from
leaving the location – although they were not charged with any
Now, the government says, in order to end the hunger strike, they
have made three demands: That they be issued with a United
Nations identification card; that they be allowed to speak with the
United States Embassy or the US Congress; and that they be sent to
their Cameroonian friends and family in Texas, “as they claim they
are specially protected under US law.”
An official release says “it was explained to the Cameroon nationals
that these demands fall outside of the remit and authority of the
Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, save and except the granting of
access to communicate with the US Embassy.
“In this regard, they have been provided with the requisite email
addresses, telephone numbers, and the physical address of the
United States Embassy in Barbados.”
Based on its experience, the government adds, it will be “reviewing
our nation’s asylum legislation and procedures as we cannot and
will not tolerate illegal migration going forward…. The country will
not become a safe haven for human traffickers and persons who use
illegal means to enter our borders.”
The 14 Cameroonians were rescued at sea after a boat in which they
allegedly had travelled from Antigua capsized. Three bodies were
recovered, as well, in the mission.
The boat was said to be carrying 30 West Africans to St. Thomas, US
Virgin Islands. The others remain “lost,” with speculation that they
were not drowned, as feared, but rescued by another boat and taken
to their destination.