Concern is mounting over the welfare of a child caught up in the continuing drama of a group of Cuban refugees refusing to disembark from a Panama-registered cargo ship anchored in Cayman waters.
Customs are Border Control (CBC) report that their offers to evacuate the ill child who is said to be running a high fever, were refused by the parents despite numerous offers from the local authorities.
A CBC statement said, “Officers made numerous offers to take the mother or the father and the child to the George Town Hospital for treatment as suggested by the Health Services Authority (HSA), however, all offers were refused by the parents.”
CBC said it continues to provide the migrants with food, drinking water, baby food for the infant and other necessary supplies.
The parents and ten other Cuban migrants remain on board the ship and are refusing to leave.
CBC reiterates that the migrants have been and are being cared for in accordance with local policy which is compliant with the 1951 Convention on the Treatment of Refugees.
The agency has denied claims by the migrants that they are being mistreated by the Caymanian authorities.
Meanwhile, the Captain of the vessel MV Bulk Freedom has indicated that he unwilling to transport the migrants to any other port, “as the vessel’s structure and equipment cannot facilitate this number of persons onboard in terms of health and hygiene.”
He has also advised that the ship’s safety equipment and manning does not allow more than 25 persons onboard and as such he is adamant that they must disembark in Cayman.
CBC and the assisting agencies, RCIPS and CICG say they are “actively working to resolve this issue as soon as possible”.
The migrants who turned up in Cayman by sea recently as illegal refugees had disappeared while their asylum request was being processed.
Their location was eventually traced out to sea a few days ago via special security tracking devices that were required to wear.
The circumstances surrounding their movements and what is now an international incident are being investigated while authorities continue their efforts to resolve the situation.