The Bahamas is an archipelago of over seven hundred islands and keys. It is nestled in the Caribbean with close proximity to the U.S. and has a populous of 319,000; as recorded by the United Nations in 2005.
The country has always been plagued with refugees and asylum seekers. Recently, there has been a change in immigration policies by the current governing administration, the Progressive Liberal Party. It has received much scrutiny and gotten backlash from international organizations inclusive of Amnesty International and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
To understand the Bahamas’ position and the state of refugees, here are 10 facts about Bahamas refugees:
- According to the World Bank, refugee by country or territory of asylum in the Bahamas was last measured at 13 in 2014.
- Individuals who have applied for asylum or refugee status and are awaiting a decision or registered as asylum seekers—are excluded.
- The percentage of tertiary educated imigrants or refugees to the Bahamas has significantly decreased to zero, signifying the country’s undesirable conditions.
- It is estimated that at least 100 refugees are residing in the Bahamas as of 2000 according to U.N. reports.
- The Bahamas government prefers repatriation of immigrants, and in 2015 the government spent $83,000 repatriating illegal immigrants as opposed to granting asylum to refugees.
- The process to seek asylum or refugee status in the Bahamas has been exposed as corrupt, unfair and unfavorable to applicants seeking political protection.
- Refugees experience discrimination, both subtle and overt, on a widespread scale.
- Refugees and asylum seekers are detained at a facility called the Carmichael Road Detention Centre; in adverse conditions.
- Refugees and asylum seekers are subject to cruel treatment if detained in the Bahamas.
- The Bahamas receives no assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development for refugee and migration or other food aid programs.
With proper policy reform, training and understanding of human rights, as well as taking preliminary measures to establish a fair asylum process to regulate more efficiently situation with the Bahamas refugees, the country will be on the right path to compliance with international human rights law and eligible for aid.
– Rochelle R. Dean