After breakdown, Cuban vessel drifts from Brac to Little Cayman

This boat drifted to Little Cayman last week with 26 Cubans on board. - Photo: Submitted

Twenty-six Cuban migrants are being held on Cayman Brac after their boat broke down and landed in Little Cayman last week.

According to government, the vessel originally landed on Cayman Brac on Dec. 2, but the migrants insisted that they could make it to their destination, and so immigration officials allowed them to continue their journey.

However, the boat had dirty fuel contaminating its engine, and broke down when it tried to continue its journey. The boat drifted to Little Cayman on Dec. 3.

The group follows a vessel carrying 27 Cubans that landed on Cayman Brac on Nov. 10. In that group, nine of the migrants stayed in Cayman while the rest continued their journey. The nine migrants that stayed have since been sent back to Cuba, according to government.

In September, another group of 11 Cubans, consisting of nine males and two females, arrived at the Brac and were transported to the Immigration Detention Centre in Grand Cayman. There, they joined Cubans who were previously released under government supervision but who have since been returned to detention.

One migrant indicated that they returned due to an issue with rental housing. Government acknowledged that some migrants had been returned to the center but has not confirmed the details or circumstances of their renewed detention.

All Cuban asylum applicants had been released from the center in August, following concerns about indefinite detention periods, in some cases surpassing two years.

At the time, the detention center was being eyed as an overflow facility for Cayman’s crowded prisons, but the Human Rights Commission flagged concerns about the facility in July.

Commission Chairman James Austin-Smith urged Her Majesty’s Prisons Service to respond, stating: “Due to the extensive nature of the unsanitary conditions, the government must take steps to rectify this situation.”

Government has not provided an update on the condition of the center since migrants were returned to the facility.

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