HAVANA TIMES – Thousands of migrants have been stuck for more than two months in the Colombian municipality of Turbo, bordering Panama, following the closure of the passage by order of the government of the neighboring country. Today they called on both nations to provide solutions to the problems that worsen every day, reported dpa.
Nearly 4,000 foreigners, the majority from Cuba, remain in the town located 487 kilometers northwest of Bogota. From there, the migrants hoped to move on through Central America (now closed off to their passage) to reach Mexico and on to the United States.
Alejandro Bayona, a spokesman for migrants who are housed in a warehouse under precarious conditions, told Caracol Radio that the governments of Colombia and Panama should “come up with a plan for safe and orderly migration to the United States.”
Also, Bayona denied that some of his compatriots are crossing the border illegally and said that “the least” they want is “risking human lives.”
On Tuesday, the mayor of Turbo, in Antioquia department (northwest), Alejandro Abuchar ordered the census of migrants and declared a public emergency in the town following the overcrowding that hundreds of them live.
Meanwhile, the director of the Migration Service, Christian Krüger, said his company is studying the case with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to start deporting foreigners.
“We are advancing the process to enter the warehouse where most immigrants are staying to subsequently initiate actions which by law belong to us, which in this case would be deportation,” the official said.
Later, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that with the implementation of a new Police Code, which shall take effect in the country within six months, officers will be able to enter the warehouse where Cubans are housed and review the situation.
The Colombian Navy often discovers groups of illegal immigrants in that region of Colombia, mostly from Cuba, Haiti, Somalia, Mali, Pakistan and Bangladesh, trying to reach Panama on their way to the United States.