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UNHCR issues incredible charge and moves to reclassify Haitians fleeing home

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

The Caribbean, June 6, 2022 – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has officially called on all nations in the region to do their part in rescuing Haitian migrants and allowing them “unobstructed and prompt access” to access asylum procedures.

The UNHCR says the call was prompted after a vessel carrying over 800 Haitians, trying to get to the US turned up in Cuba instead because the its captain abandoned the boat and left it and its passengers adrift at sea.

While many Caribbean nations have nationals who brave the journey across the ocean for a better life as the situation in Haiti grows more unstable, Haitians are taking the journey more than ever.  The number of Haitians now interdicted at sea between October 2021 and May 2022 is 5,003 Haitians.

Triple the 1,527 interdicted in 2020-2021.

The UNHCR says a “Search and rescue at sea is a legal and humanitarian imperative, and those rescued include refugees and others in need of protection. Coordination, solidarity, and responsibility-sharing are crucial in responding effectively and ensuring that people in need of international protection are not returned to their country of origin, and the dangers they have fled.”

But the situation is not always so cut and dried: hundreds of Haitian migrants trying to escape hardship set out on the seas, many of them for the closest land masses they can find, usually  The Bahamas, The Turks and Caicos and the Florida Keys.

The entire state of Florida is 170,312 kilometres squared about 12 times the size of the Bahamas which sits at 13,880 km². The Bahamas in turn is just about 14 times larger than the Turks and Caicos.

Because of their location all three are prime locations for Haitian refugees but the size factor between the three greatly affects the ability to facilitate asylum seekers.  One of the most recent migrant interdictions by the US Coast Guard on May 9, 2022 revealed 212 migrants likely headed for the TCI according to the Coast Guard.

Another recent boat reported by the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force which made landfall on the island of Providenciales held 110 migrants; that was May 19th.

Seven days prior to that on May 12th a boat with 129 migrants was stopped as it made its way into Turks and Caicos waters.

Over the Queen’s Jubilee Holiday weekend, this past four days, there were reports of as many as three interceptions; one count got up to 170; the remaining two were just over 100 souls aboard. All taken into custody, all repatriated at the cost of the TCI public purse.

The UNHCR says it will work with governments in the region to support the response and reception of arrivals at their borders but noted that, “Receiving states have the first line of responsibility in protecting those who may have well-founded fears of persecution in their country of origin. It is vital to ensure that arrangements for disembarkation of those rescued do not result in summary return, and that they have access to procedures to have their claims assessed before being expelled or deported.”

The reality goes without saying, the Turks and Caicos’ land area will not allow it to facilitate the large numbers of migrants who need asylum and who make the perilous journey weekly.  The situation is similar in The Bahamas.

The UNHCR for its part has promised that it will “support international human rights and refugee law, while respecting national security concerns and state sovereignty.”

This is a promise that absolutely must be upheld as without active concern for the welfare of receiving islands what is already a bad situation may swiftly become worse.

The size, economic capacity, social welfare systems and other areas must be addressed before any concrete decisions are made.  It must be that migrants’ health and safety are balanced with the disproportionate impact on the sustainable growth of countries which would become compelled to follow the treaty.

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Prime Minister Davis Gives Briefing on The Bahamas’ Interactions at CHOGM in Rwanda

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By: Eric Rose

Bahamas Information Services

 

#TheBahamas, June 28, 2022 – During the press briefing upon his return from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis noted that, as he closely followed the news from The Bahamas the week prior, he was able to candidly exchange views with other leaders at CHOGM about what was happening in The Bahamas, compared to what was happening in their countries.

“I was able to learn some of the ways in which they are tackling the same challenges, and some of the ways in which they are creating new opportunities for their people,” Prime Minister Davis said, during the briefing in the VIP Lounge of the Lynden Pindling International Airport, on June 27, 2022.

Among those present at the press briefing included Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper; Minister of Health and Wellness, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister David Davis; Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda; Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle; and Mrs. Ann Marie Davis, of the Office of the Spouse of the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, like many other small island states, The Bahamas was being hit by global challenges, which are not of its own making.  He said that the activities of larger nations were creating and exacerbating pressures on The Bahamas’ economy and national development.

“Whether it’s the pollution from the industrialised world that ultimately result in storms like Hurricane Dorian, or the behaviour of authoritarian leaders that cause global instability, CHOGM provided an opportunity to challenge some of those leaders directly,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“In my contribution to the Business Forum, in which I was one of only a small number of leaders who was invited to make a presentation, I emphatically made the point that ‘none of us will succeed if we try to do things on our own’,” he added.

“It is a similar point I made to the Bahamian people at the start of our administration: that our country will only succeed if we all work together, in partnership,” Prime Minister Davis continued.  “The meetings and discussions we had at CHOGM emphatically reinforced the point: by working together we can achieve so much more than by trying to go it alone.”

Prime Minister Davis said that he was happy to report that his Government’s international efforts were “bearing fruit”.

He said: “Our voice is being heard.  Other countries want to strengthen their relationships with us.  Other world leaders and business people want to invest in us.  And international organisations want to help us.”

“We are at an ‘inflection point’, a moment when we can see our fortunes changing.  We are now in the kinds of discussions where we can not only make our needs known, but have our requests honoured.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that the global idea of The Bahamas was shifting, and people wanted to do business with the nation.

“This kind of influence and these kinds of outcomes have become possible because of our decision to make our foreign policy work better and harder for us,” he said.

“For example, the pressure that we have been applying in terms of receiving funding and support to protect ourselves against the impact of climate change, that pressure is yielding results,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “Before too long, we will be able to say more about the specific offers of funding and support that we have received.

“In terms of the big picture, there’s still a way to go before the polluting countries fulfil their stated obligations; but slowly and surely, The Bahamas is starting to benefit.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, at CHOGM 2022, his Government settled formal diplomatic relations with its host, Rwanda, and also with Tuvalu and Gabon.

“We are grateful to the President of Rwanda, who conferred special courtesies upon us,” he said.  “On the first day we were there, we were honoured when he invited me to escort him into the opening session, and referred to me, referred to The Bahamas, as his special guest.”

“The next day we were all deeply moved to visit a memorial in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, paying tribute to the millions who died in the genocide there in 1994, just 28 years ago,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “On that single site alone were buried some 250,000 people, more than half our population.  I cannot describe the feeling of walking on such hallowed ground.

“To witness some of the horrors of that time, and to now see the modern state which they have since built, prompted tears of sympathy and admiration.”

“We can take what we’ve learned and apply it to our own national development,” Prime Minister Davis continued.  “And they are keen to learn from us about how to build their tourism industry.

“As so many countries do, they recognise The Bahamas as world leaders in the sector.”

Prime Minster Davis noted that his delegation also held a number of meetings with other countries and organisations.

“The discussions covered multiple issues, as diverse as the emerging threats of new healthcare challenges, such as microbial infections, and how to secure energy supplies,” he said.

“We also participated strongly in events developing strategies to improve and promote the rights and welfare of young people and of women.

Prime Minister Davis said that he was proud to see the Office of The Spouse “so prominently engaged in the Women’s Forum”.

“Issues especially affecting women in The Bahamas were well-represented, from ways to better and fairer employment, to dealing with issues of gender-based violence,” he said.

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that in his delegation with the President of Botswana, they agreed to mutually support each other by Botswana helping The Bahamas to develop its livestock industry, and The Bahamas offering them support, again in developing tourism.

“As with so many of the African leaders we met, we recognised in each others’ faces, people who not only look like us, but people who remind us of specific individuals at home,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “And as the President of Botswana said, they want to reconnect and strengthen ties with our brothers and sisters who were so cruelly taken from us hundreds of years ago.

“He has accepted our invitation to attend some of the celebrations surrounding the 50th Anniversary of Independence, and in return, invited us not just to engage in the technical issues of mutual interest, but also to get to know a little of their culture.”

“If we continue on this path, and succeed in The Bahamas becoming a kind of bridge between the Caribbean and Africa, opportunities for Bahamians and The Bahamas will continue to grow manifold,” he added.

Prime Minister Davis said that, in time, he hopes that many more Bahamians could be facilitated to visit, and even work for a while, in some of the countries “with whom we share so many ancient ties”.

“We were pleased to host a dinner for a small number of Bahamians who are already living in Rwanda or neighbouring countries,” he said. “Travel certainly broadens the mind, and our country will be richer from the kind of exposure these experiences will bring to each of us.”

Prime Minister Davis said that, in wider discussions about strategies about managing the economy, dealing with crime, improving housing and access to financial services, better protecting and managing the resources in our oceans and seas, time and again, the voice of the Bahamian people was strongly heard, and people expressed their enthusiasm in working with the nation.

“We have already issued a statement on the outcome from CHOGM,” he added.  “We were especially pleased with the re-election of Patricia Scotland as Secretary-General.

Prime Minister Davis noted that The Bahamas played “an extremely active role” in encouraging others to join the nation in its support. He pointed out that, behind the scenes, over many months, there were efforts by some states to go against convention, and deny automatic re-election of the first female Secretary-General, whom he termed “a strong Caribbean woman”.

“We not only thought it unfair, but have benefitted from several of her initiatives, such as ‘The Commonwealth Blue Charter’,” Prime Minister said.  “Their recent Ocean Action report, ‘An Ocean of Opportunity’, contains much which can benefit The Bahamas.

“I encourage you all to read it.”

“I also encourage you to read the formal documents which the Leaders produced, including the Final Communique, the Leaders’ Statement, the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter, the declaration on Sustainable Urbanisation, and so on,” he added.

“At the moment these documents may seem far away from the struggles which so many of us are facing every day.

“But these agreements, they will help to guide and shape our future.”

Prime Minister Davis said that if Bahamians wanted to safeguard and protect their tomorrows, then those were the kinds of actions the nation needed to “start taking today”.

“We return home inspired, confident that we have worked hard, productively and well on behalf of The Bahamian people,” he said.

“And of course, it’s always good to be home.

 

PHOTO CAPTION: Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis speaks, on June 27, 2022, in the VIP Lounge of the Lynden Pindling International Airport, at a press briefing upon his return from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), in Rwanda.   (BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

 

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Nation’s Largest Privately Held Island Goes on Online Auction

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Bahamas Tops Post-COVID Destination Choices

 

#TheBahamas, June 28, 2022 – It’s not often that a once in a lifetime opportunity presents itself twice, but that’s exactly what’s happened in the case of Little Ragged Island.

The remote isle in the southern Bahamas is back on the market and has what it takes to draw the attention of the world’s wealthiest seeking a private tropical haven for personal pleasure or development potential.

The isle with an exotic feel and easy access to multiple airports short boat rides away is the largest private island up for sale in The Bahamas, a 100,000-mile open ocean archipelago that has remained a coveted destination among those seeking luxurious, secluded and easily accessible getaways.

According to industry analysts, interest is expected to be high when the island hits the online auction site this week with bidding opening July 25 for four days.

While COVID took a significant toll on the tourism-dependent economy, pent-up demand in the wake of early pandemic lockdowns continues to drive a real estate boom that has swept across the country’s many islands and cays — famed for their turquoise waters and hailed by former NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly as the “most beautiful place from space.”

“Private islands in The Bahamas have long been regarded as a premier choice for anyone in search of the ultimate getaway, and St. Andrew’s or Little Ragged as it is commonly called is a fisherman’s and diver’s paradise,” said Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions Vice President of Business Development Danny Prell.

“Located in the Ragged Island chain, the 712-acre island, with its secluded coves and beaches is unlike anything on the market, away from it all, but only a two-hour flight from Miami. That lends a feeling of true remoteness, while maintaining advantages like easy access from key markets and an English-speaking local population.”

Bahamas Realty’s Stuart Halbert, the local real estate agent for the listing, said he believes development opportunities for Little Ragged are limited only to one’s imagination.

“This is the perfect blank canvas for a dream project such as a private residential settlement or a boutique resort with a large marina,” he said.

The award-winning agent said St. Andrew’s Island has great potential due to its topography, good elevations, beautiful beaches and superb fishing. bHalbert also noted that the island could be perfect for an eco-resort, describing the natural wildlife as “abundant” and noting that it has excellent snorkeling and diving potential.

Little Ragged Island’s location, just a mile from the Duncan Town airport, means great accessibility for transporting supplies to the island and accommodating workers while developing the island.

Though Little Ragged Island was grabbed up in an auction last year, global market conditions have landed it back on the market, presenting those who missed out on the initial opportunity with a second chance. It’s not the first time Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions has sold the same property twice. There have been cases, executives said, when a highly desirable property changes hands three times, all by online auction, one of the fastest growing marketing tools for exclusive properties in the real estate world.

“One of the reasons we have enjoyed the growth we have and now the affiliation with the famed international auction master of art and estates, Sotheby’s, not to be confused with the real estate franchise by the same name, is that we are extremely selective in what we accept to represent,” explained Prell. Quality and fair market pricing are prerequisites, he noted. And where once auctions were considered a last-ditch effort, today they are anything but. In fact, many in the rarified upper air of high-end markets rely on auctions to bring the most interesting, objectively-priced unique properties to market knowing that the curated database includes the top 1% of the world’s wealthiest and their representatives or agents.

“Of every 20 properties or estates offered to the online auction firm, Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions turns down 18,” Prell says.

“The 10% of properties we do take must have that special something that makes it Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions quality,” “Only then will one of our digital marketing and sales teams begin the process of preparing for the sale, always aligning with a local agent, working the database, understanding who the offering and the price point will appeal to, qualifying them for the bidding process which requires a deposit to participate and then watching the excitement unfold online.”

Once up on the Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions website, the sale of a property takes on a life of its own with a clock ticking and prices climbing. Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions has successfully auctioned off numerous properties in The Bahamas, while maintaining its commitment to working with Bahamian agents for each transaction. Little Ragged Island is selling without reserve.

To register or follow the auction, click on www.casothebys.com/auctions/r1-st-andrews-little-ragged-island-bahamas.

 

Caption: Twice in a lifetime opportunity – Little Ragged Island, also known as St. Andrew’s, is back on the market as a unique opportunity to own a piece of paradise in the southern Bahamas. It will be offered for sale to the highest bidder without reserve next month by Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions in conjunction with Bahamas Realty’s Stuart Halbert. The 712-acre island with two fresh water springs is the largest privately held island currently for sale in The Bahamas. Photo by Brett Davis for DPA

 

Release: Bahamas Realty

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49th Independence Anniversary Celebrations Kick Off with National Pride Day

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#TheBahamas, June 27, 2022 – Under the theme: “Proud to Be Bahamian”, the National Independence Secretariat is set to kick off the 49th Independence Celebrations on Friday, July 1, 2022.

In its efforts to promote pride and unity throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Secretariat is encouraging a National Flag Raising Ceremony be held at all Government, and private corporate offices.

This ceremony should be staged at 9am on the Friday, simultaneously.

Bahamians are urged to wear the national colours of aquamarine, gold and black and assemble together as the National Flag is being hoisted and to sing the National Anthem, followed by a prayer.

The Secretariat is also encouraging participants to capture the event in photos and or videos, for posting on social media platforms, and inclusion in the national jubilee booklet and documentary next year.

Send images to: info@celebrate-bahamas.com

 

Photo Caption: Sienna Evans beautiful costume was created by Patrice Lockhart. Special thanks to Commonwealth Fabrics for their generous donation of the Androsia fabric used in the gown.

 

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