Haitian migrants in Colombia assess trip to US after deportations

NECOCLI, Colombia, September 24 (Reuters) – Many Haitian migrants heading north through Colombia wonder if they will continue their journey to the United States, after more than a thousand of them have been deported from the US-Mexico border last week.

Some 16,000 migrants are stranded in the seaside town of Necocli in northern Colombia, awaiting their turn by limited boat transport to the jungles of Darien Gap in Panama, where smugglers guide groups through the dangerous region .

Tens of thousands of migrants pass through Necocli every year, but the lifting of COVID-19 border closures this year has skyrocketed the number of migrants, with the worsening bottleneck overburdening public and social services in the city.

Some migrants wonder where to stop on their journey, they told Reuters, after the United States deported 1,400 Haitian nationals who had gathered in camps on both sides of the US-Mexico border. – back in a Caribbean country since Sunday. Read more

“Some are fighters who will not give up their dreams,” Haitian migrant Gabriel said from the port of Necocli.

Those determined to help families back home can wait in Mexico before attempting to enter the United States, said Gabriel, who did not give his last name.

“Everyone is waiting for a decision from the United States government, to see if it calms down and how they can get in to do the migration process.”

The US special envoy to Haiti resigned Thursday, lambasting the Biden administration for “inhuman and counterproductive” deportations, while Mexico urged Haitians to return to its border with Guatemala to seek asylum. Read more

Many migrants spent years in other Latin American countries like Chile and Brazil before attempting the northward journey and now feel their opportunity to enter the United States may be closed.

“What we want is to be allowed to pass before they close the borders to us in the United States,” a Venezuelan migrant, who did not give his name, told Reuters this week, but said he ‘he worked in Peru. “They will take our dreams away.

Colombia and Panama agreed last month that 500 migrants could cross per day, but local officials have repeatedly urged them to increase the quota, saying it is far too low to keep pace with the roughly 1,500 migrants. who arrive in town on a daily basis.

Migrants – many with young children – crowd into hotels or sleep on the beach, lining up in the pouring rain to search for boat tickets.

When their turn finally arrives, they put on life jackets, their belongings well packed and protected from the spray by duct tape. The journey through the Gulf of Uraba takes only an hour.

A spokesperson for the Colombian Migration Authority said it was meeting Panama’s quota and tickets for boat crossings through mid-October have already been sold.

Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that more than 80,000 irregular migrants have traveled through Panama this year. He called for international aid, saying his country is spending its limited budget on supporting migrants.

At least some seemed to give up their dream of reaching the United States.

“When I arrive in Mexico, I will stop there,” said a Haitian migrant who did not want to give his name. “I don’t want to enter the United States now.”

Reporting by Henry Esquivel in Necocli Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; edited by Diane Craft

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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