By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
Consultant Louby Georges says officials are hopeful that by the end of the month a memorial will be held for the Haitian migrants who died in a human smuggling incident last month when the boat they were on capsized.
However, he said the final decision rests in the hands of the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Haiti.
“The sooner the better but there’s a certain process again that we have (to) go through, which is ongoing as we speak,” Mr Georges told The Tribune yesterday. “I would say that we are maybe in the final stages. If you chose a funeral home then you know that the funeral home has to go to that morgue at that hospital (to) retrieve the bodies to begin to prepare the bodies for a funeral. So, hopefully by the end of this month it will be done.”
He added: “Well right now what I understand is going on in terms of the process is (the) quotes have been sent. So, by tomorrow or Wednesday will be the day or this week will be the last day for quotes to go over to Haiti from various funeral homes through the embassy and the government in Haiti is going to make a decision on which funeral home or homes they’re going to go with.
“And they decided to go about it this way because the now minister of foreign affairs for Haiti is a former ambassador to The Bahamas or Chargé d’affaires to The Bahamas, he was once here and when he was here serving at the embassy he recalls that there was a tragedy and where the community or the embassy dealt with the funeral and you know it was done in poor taste to say the least.”
He added: “They were not happy with it. The bodies were in some severe decomposed state, I mean from the funeral home on to the cemetery. The smell was unbearable.”
Mr Georges recalled that the incident was about five to six years ago. He noted the funeral home was led by a Haitian citizen.
“I don’t know what the cause was, but it was done in poor taste. They were laid to rest in wooden boxes which seemed to be made out of plywood. Clearly, they were not suitable caskets that I don’t think anyone would want their family members to be buried in.”
The consultant previously revealed the Haitian government has committed to cover the burial costs of those who perished at sea after their boat capsized in waters off New Providence.
The boating tragedy left 17 Haitian migrants, including a pregnant woman, dead last month.
Back in 2019, officials said 27 Haitians died and 18 survived after their boat hit a reef in early February.
Haitian survivors of the shipwreck told rescuers they were at sea for seven days when all hell broke loose near the Abaco cays.
The vessel struck a reef well known to be dangerous and the boat disintegrated into two halves, volunteer rescuers told this newspaper.
The dead were first spotted by tourists in a 55ft chartered catamaran.
The tourists saw two floating bodies and sent a mayday signal, according to Troy Albury, 48, head of Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association on Guana Cay and the first rescuer on the scene.
The incident was the deadliest migrant shipwreck in Bahamian waters since 2013 when at least 30 Haitians perished on an overloaded boat headed for the United States. At the time, 110 people were rescued, including 19 women.