Antigua and Barbuda has rescinded its initial offer to accept the repatriation of 14 Cameroonians who have been held in St. Kitts since March 28, following the capsizing and sinking of a vessel on which they traveling.
The news – which shocked residents here – was shared in a statement from the Ministry of National Security in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The communiqué – which primarily addresses the April 26 escape of nine of the Cameroonian detainees – says that Antigua and Barbuda has withdrawn its offer, thereby cancelling the arrangement to send the West Africans back here.
Therefore, St. Kitts and Nevis says, its government “continues to pursue workable and diplomatic solutions as it is duty-bound so to do,” and it promises to keep the public updated, as necessary.
Meanwhile, local residents are waiting to hear from the Gaston Browne Administration on this latest development. After all, it had promised that the stranded Cameroonians would be offered residency status, and has already removed work-permit fees to facilitate their employment.
Accordingly, many persons are shocked by the Administration’s refusal to repatriate those now in St. Kitts and – worse – its failure to advise the public.
Were it not for the statement out of St. Kitts and Nevis, one woman says, citizens and residents here would have been left in the dark, with no clue as to the Browne Administration’s intention.
If the Antigua and Barbuda Government has chosen to take this decision, she says, she cannot understand the secrecy; and she
brands the Administration as “very secretive and dishonest and cannot be trusted to tell the truth.”
Meanwhile, four of the nine Cameroonians who escaped from the Federation’s detention centre were found on Thursday morning, April 27, while five remain at large. While law-enforcement officers continue to search for those still missing, photos of the five – all men – are being circulated, and the public is asked for assistance in finding them.
Seventeen (17) Cameroonians were taken to St. Kitts by its Coast Guard on March 28 after the tragic incident. However, three of those persons had died – due to drowning – before being rescued.
They were transported to St. Kitts; provided with medical and psychological care; and detained at a government facility pending repatriation to Antigua and Barbuda.