US prepares Guantanamo for Haitians
Published 21/01/2010 | 04:02
The US has begun preparing tents at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba for Haitian migrants in case of a mass migration spurred by the earthquake.
About 100 tents, each capable of holding 10 people, have been erected and authorities have more than 1,000 more on hand in case waves of Haitians leave their homeland and are captured at sea, said Rear Admiral Thomas Copeman.
Authorities have also tested the toilet facilities and gathered beds and other supplies, said Admiral Copeman, the commander of the task force that runs the detention centre for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo, where the US holds nearly 200 men.
The Haitian migrants would be held on the opposite side of the base to the detention centre, separated by some two and a half miles of water across Guantanamo Bay, and would have no contact with the prisoners.
US immigration officials say they will fast-track applications for a government designation that will allow illegal Haitian immigrants to live and work temporarily in America, but only if they were in the US on the day of the January 12 earthquake.
The US base in south-eastern Cuba is also being used to transport supplies and staff to the aid effort in Haiti, about 200 miles away.
In the early 1990s, tens of thousands of Haitian boat people were held at Guantanamo until they could be sent home.