Some 400 illegal migrants have been stranded in the north Colombian port city of Turbo, a week after Panama closed its border to stem the flow of illegal migrants on their way to the US.
Panama shut its border and increased police presence on the beaches near its border with Colombia after an increasing number of migrants began using the Colombia-Panama passage to the United States.
However, since then, migrants have got stuck in Turbo, a small port town in the northwestern Antioquia province that has become a key human trafficking hub.
According to the local human rights office, the migrants are from Africa, Haiti, Cuba, India and Pakistan.
The office said that the mayor of Turbo will travel to Bogota to request assistance from the national government as it lacks the resources to adequately house and feed the growing group of stranded migrants.
Additionally, the human rights office said that “shameless” human traffickers are pretending to be human rights officials to further extort the migrants, promising a successful trip northward, in spite of Panama’s increased security in the border region.
It is unclear whether migrants have been able to make the dangerous trip north after Panama’s border closure.
Meanwhile in Turbo, the humanitarian situation of the migrants has become “serious,” the regional ombudsman, William Gonzalez, told local media, stressing that among those stuck in the city are pregnant women and children.