Government struggles to handle flood of migrants

The central government is trying to come to grips with the new flood of migrants who are entering the country illegally at the rate of from 100 to 150 a day.

Casa Presidencial said Wednesday that the Fuerza Pública would reinforce the country’s southern border with Panamá. The government also revealed that up to 80 percent of the migrants who hope to reach the United States are not Africans, as was thought. They are Haitians, said a government summary. However, there are migrants from Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the Congo, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Togo, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, India, South Africa and the Sudan.

The government summary of the migrant situation may have been provoked by the death of eight persons, presumed to be migrants, in Lake Nicaragua.

The government summary said that there were  231 migrants in Paso Canoas, including 114 in a center in Bueno Aires, 70 along the border who just came into the country and 47 in Golfito. In Peñas Blancas there are 1,537 persons in three locations.

These figures might not be accurate.

Since April 21, the government counted 5,601 adult migrants and issued temporary immigration permissions to 3,778. So it is clear that many migrants have moved on with unofficial help. A.M. Costa Rica reported on a group of migrants who walked into Nicaragua along the Caribbean coast after spending the night in Barra de Colorado.

They were unimpeded by police.

Of particular government concern is an unofficial migrant camp near the northern border. There hundreds of migrants are living without adequate health and sanitary facilities and these, in the words of  Mauricio Herrera, minister of  Comunicación, represent a hidden danger that needs to be handled to guarantee the security of the national population and

An unofficial migrant camp lacks utilities  and, it appears, also garbage pickup.

An unofficial migrant camp lacks utilities
and, it appears, also garbage pickup.

other migrants. Some have scuffled with police.

The government said it will issue 20-day permits for migrant who report to immigration offices. Those who are found to be without the permits will be deported, although the government did not say to where.

The Ministerio de Planificación was given two months to come up with a plan of how to handle migrants in the long- and short-term, said the government.

Government officials have been turning a blind eye to the migrant problem and have justified inaction on the basis of human rights. The situation has been highly lucrative for some. The migrants have been paying to cross the southern border and also to enter Nicaragua, even though that country says it has closed its border.

Many of the migrants carry no identification. They follow on the heels of some 8,000 Cubans who spent time in Costa Rica before being airlifted in the direction of the United States.

Panamá also has a migrant problem, and Colombia is trying to deport some 1,200 Cubans who ended up stuck in that country.

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