(QCOSTARICA) Costa Rica in “concerned” over Wednesday’s decision by Panama allowing migrants to cross the border, while it struggles around 2,500 migrants already in the country, at the Panama and Nicaragua border.
Yesterday, Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela, said that migrants arriving in Panama from Colombia will be received by local authorities and will be allowed to continue north into Costa Rica, as part of their journey to the United States.
“The border is closed to irregular migrants, but to those have already entered the country from areas such the Darien jungle, we will offer humanitarian assistance to allow them to follow their route,” said Varela.
“Panama is not going to allow anyone who has already crossed into our country to die on our land,” said the president during a public event.
Many of the migrants are from Haiti (pretending to be Africans) and Africa, with some also from Cuba and Asian countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Varela explained that there are different points of control and assistance to migrants, besides the camp being built in the town of Metetí (province of Darien) where Panamanian authorities identify the migrants and provide them food and health services. “What it is is a humanitarian corridor,” said Varela, who added that two Colombians were arrested on charges of human trafficking.
“Costa Rica has been very generous, but is now overburdened. Many of the migrants stranded here have sold everything they have to pay for what they hoped would be a journey to a better life. Many are traumatized by abuse suffered and some want to go home, but do not have the resources,” said the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) mission in Costa Rica, Roeland de Wilde.
With Nicaragua’s border still closed to the migrants, getting through Nicaragua is proving extremely difficult for the migrants, some of whom have paid upwards of US$1,000 to coyotes (smugglers), many getting scammed in their attempt.