Survey Results on Haitian Migration to The Bahamas Released

Posted: 
09/18/06

Research recently concluded by the IOM and the College of the
Bahamas (COB) confirms that Haitian nationals migrate to The
Bahamas from increasingly varied points in their homeland, in many
instances in an irregular manner, primarily in search of work.

Because of their generally low educational levels and poor
English language skills, they largely seek unskilled or
semi-skilled jobs and are often able to circumvent labour permit
requirements with employer assistance. 

These research findings also suggest that Haitian migrants are
not well integrated into Bahamian society.  Owing to low
income levels, they make considerably more use of public than
private healthcare and education services while seeking help
amongst themselves for other kinds of social support. Haitian
migrants largely remain a distinct and separate community,
generally living in poorer accommodations than other groups;
perhaps for that reason, significant numbers of respondents
disclaimed any intention to settle permanently in The
Bahamas. 

While many caveats must be taken into consideration, research
estimates extrapolated from available data suggest the population
of Haitian nationals present in The Bahamas to range roughly from
30,000-60,000.  But more information needs to be developed
about the numbers of “flow through” migrants, i.e.,
those using The Bahamas as a transit point to the United
States.

The findings and conclusions of the research were part of an
extensive study commissioned by IOM in coordination with the
Government of the Bahamas, and carried out by COB to help gauge the
impact and dimension of the Haitian migrant presence in The
Bahamas.  This research project, part of IOM’s ongoing
programme of technical assistance to the Government in the field of
migration, is contributing more up-to-date information and fresh
perspectives on Haitian migration in The Bahamas.  

Haitian migrants by far constitute the largest migrant community
in The Bahamas – characterized by a distinct linguistic,
cultural, and social tradition – thus posing significant
policy and resource implications for the Government and
society.  Notwithstanding the issue’s importance, the
body of information remains slim at best.  The IOM-COB report
seeks to help reverse this prevailing trend.

In coordination and consultation with IOM, COB assembled a
multi-disciplinary team to carry out this research.  Three
distinct but related activities are reflected in the report: a
literature and media review; data collection and analysis of
existing information; and an extensive demographic survey of
Haitian migrant households, with strict confidentiality maintained
for the 506 respondents involved, on the islands of New Providence,
Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Eleuthera.  From a historical
perspective, this effort sought to build on initial,
ground-breaking research of some 34 years ago.

Completion of this research project was realized with the
cooperation of various Government ministries and departments and
with the active involvement and support of the Embassy of Haiti and
the Haitian community.  A grant to IOM from the U.S.
Department of State, Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration,
provided the financial resources necessary for the project to go
forward.

IOM hopes that the report will serve not only to stimulate
further research and analysis in this important area but also, in a
practical sense, be a useful reference source to policy makers for
future planning purposes, the Haitian migrant community and the
public at large.

For more information, please contact:

Niurka Piñeiro

IOM Washington

Tel: 1-202-862-1826 Ext. 225

E-mail: "mailto:npineiro@iom.int">npineiro@iom.int

Haitian Migrants in the Bahamas

  • "/jahia/webdav/site/myjahiasite/shared/shared/mainsite/published_docs/books/Haitian_Migrants.pdf"
    target="_blank" title=""> "3">Summary
  • "/jahia/webdav/site/myjahiasite/shared/shared/mainsite/published_docs/books/Haitian_Migrants_Report.pdf"
    target="_blank" title=""> "3">Full Report