96 Haitian migrants rescued from boat off Boca Raton

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Calls for help in Haiti are growing louder as gang violence and unrest intensify.

“We need intervention, we just need it right now,” said community leader and attorney Byrnes Guillaume.

The call to action is in response to the lack of food, water, fuel and health care, and how several of them are still seeking refuge in the US.

“You have people leaving, people fleeing the chaos to come to a better place and risking their lives, they don’t even think twice,” Francki Pierre-Paul said. Pierre-Paul lives in West Palm Beach, but calls that Caribbean country his home.

96 Haitian migrants were rescued Wednesday after they were spotted 20 miles east of Boca Raton. Men, women and children were in distress on the overloaded 40-foot boat. The Coast Guard said the group had been at sea for seven days, the last two without food or water.

In the past two years, the number of captured Haitian migrants has skyrocketed from 1,500 to more than 7,000, according to the latest statistics from the US Coast Guard. Both said the number would continue until the US stepped in to help.

“They are looking for change, they are looking for change and they deserve it,” said Pierre-Paul. “The fact that they’re not getting it is heartbreaking.”

In addition to the lack of basic necessities, the island is also facing a new wave of cholera cases. According to the Pan American Health Organization, 35 people have died from the disease this month alone, and there are nearly 600 suspected cases. It’s a troubling trend that Guillaume said underscores the need for a federal response.

“Put your boots on the ground and make a difference, not just our government, but we’re asking our UN to do the same,” Guillaume said.

According to the US State Department, over the weekend both the US and Canada joined forces and sent armored vehicles and supplies. The plan is to send a special response team.

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