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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 06:38 GMT
Haiti migrants feared drowned
Haitian immigrants returned to Haiti by the US coast guard
Many Haitians have made the dangerous journey
By the BBC's Daniel Schweimler in Havana

Reports from Haiti say that more than 200 migrants travelling on makeshift boats are thought to have drowned trying to reach the United States.

Haitian immigrants rescued from a boat by the US Coast Guard
Migrants pack tiny crafts to try and reach the US
Officials say they may have capsized in turbulent seas.

The first boat with 150 people on board left southern Haiti four weeks ago, with a second, carrying 63 passengers, departed the following day.

Relatives in Haiti have told government officials that they have not heard from anyone who boarded either boat.

Both were heading for what those on board hoped would be a better life in the United States.

They never made it.

When they reach land, Haitian migrants nearly always, one way or another, get word home that they have arrived safely.

Their families have abandoned hope, said a government official.

Hurricane Michelle hit Cuba and the Bahamas a few days after the boats left Haiti and they may have capsized in turbulent seas.

Migrant stream

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the region and a constant stream of migrants take to ramshackle boats every year in order to escape economic and political chaos.

But as the Caribbean nation's latest economic crisis deepens, the number of migrants looks likely to rise.

This year alone authorities in the Bahamas have repatriated more than 6000 Haitians, 1200 more than last year.

Meanwhile, 30 Cubans, including a number of children, are also thought to have drowned after their capsized boat was found at sea.

See also:

03 Jan 00 | Americas
Haitian boat people repatriated
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