Spanish version

IMMIGRATION

Hundreds of migrants stuck between Colombia and Panama

Temas:

Tired and desperate, hundreds of immigrants, most Cubans who entered Colombia illegally, are stranded near Panama a week after this country said it would stop them from entering the country as part of their quest to reach the United States.

Colombian officials said there are approximately 250 immigrants stranded in Turbo, in the Gulf of Uraba, an area close to the Panama border. But local officials said the number is closer to 500, and they are crammed into the tiny town that has no capacity to deal with the influx.

"The number of migrants continues to rise day by day. Today there are about 500, but tomorrow there could be 550 or 600," said Turbo official Emelides Muñoz.

There are videos of the migrants camped out in front of government buildings in the town.

"We just want to go to Panama, we do not want nothing more," said one of the immigrants.

Turbo used to be only a stopping point for illegal immigrants on their way to the U.S., but Panama recently stopped accepting them, and has increased patrols on its border to prevent them from entering.

There is a lack of food for the immigrants, and there are concerns that they will fall victim to illegal human traffickers. Many of them have already paid large sums to traffickers to get them from Bogota to Panama, but have found themselves stranded on the border.

"They have taken everything," shouted one of the immgrants, many of whom arrived in South America through Ecuador.

Panama plans to deport some 3,800 immigrants to Mexico in the coming weeks, and after that plans to keep more from arriving by tightening its border controls. that has left the future of those stranded in Turbo up in the air.

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