14 Cameroonians rescued, 3 dead, others missing after boat capsized in Caribbean waters

Francis Akhalbey March 31, 2023
Officials said the boat capsized close to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts -- Photo Credit: Pok Rie

Authorities in St. Kitts said a boat that capsized in eastern Caribbean waters on Tuesday had at least 14 Cameroonians on board, who were later rescued. However, 13 people are still missing and three others have been confirmed dead, per The Associated Press.

During a news conference, the head of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force, Anthony Comrie, said the group was sailing to the U.S. Virgin Islands after leaving Antigua when their boat capsized. Comrie also said the passengers on the boat were 32, adding that they had been staying in Guadeloupe a week before making their way to Antigua. Their boat, which was reportedly stolen in Antigua, is said to have sunk close to the island of St. Kitts.

“My government has been making every effort to be helpful to these brothers and sisters from Africa who were marooned on Antigua, including granting them residence and the opportunity to work,” said Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

Browne said the Cameroonians had wanted to migrate to other countries after traveling to Antigua as tourists. His government has reached out to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration for advice regarding the welfare of the survivors. He also said Antigua is open to taking them in.

Browne labeled what had occurred as an “unlawful and dreadful affair,” and explained that the incident was going to be investigated. “All of the facts surrounding today’s calamity are not yet known,” he added.

Officials do not know the nationalities of the deceased and missing individuals, and what caused the boat to capsize is also unknown. “The vessel went down in relatively deep water, and so recovery … might be a bit of a challenge,” Col. Telbert Benjamin, chief of defense for Antigua and Barbuda’s Defense Force, said.

The United Nations reports that over 3,000 Cameroonians have died while more than 750,000 have been displaced as a result of the ongoing conflict between the government and separatists from the Central African nation’s Anglophone regions, per The Associated Press.

As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, the current challenges in Cameroon date back to pre-independence when the country was formed by combining two British and French colonial territories, with the bigger territory being French.

Since the two territories merged after independence in 1961, the English-speaking people complained about being politically and economically disadvantaged. At the time, the English-speaking region was then given two options by the UN, to either join Nigeria or Cameroon as a federation.

Many feel that the UN should have given the English-speaking people the option of gaining independence and standing on their own. This missing option has contributed to some of the disturbances being experienced in the country.

The quest for independence for Southern Cameroons started in October 2016 when lawyers and teachers took to the streets to complain about economic injustice as well as discrimination. However, the situation has now escalated into violence with multiple armed separatist groups currently operating in the country’s Anglophone regions.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: March 31, 2023


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