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Costa Rica deports 250 African migrants to Panama

Costa Rican authorities have deported some 250 African migrants of different nationalities to Panama.

220 Africans were arrested on the border with Nicaragua and transfered by bus to the border with Panama in Paso Canoas, local media report.

Another 30 were also arrested and deported by the country’s national police, Reuters reports.

Panamanian officials said the migrants were children, pregnant women and men from Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia.

One of the migrants said they did not wish to stay in Costa Rica but wanted to cross through to the United States.

“We need help because we have family there who are going to help us. They need to help us to get there because we don’t have possibilities, we don’t have money, we have nothing. The least we want is to get through. We don’t want to stay here. We want to get to the United States,” he said.

Costa Rican Public Security Minister, Gustavo Mata, said the border between Costa Rica and Panama has historically been porous.

“First, this is a very porous border. It’s a border which has a lot a access points. From the Panamanian side, you walk into a shopping centre you’re already in Costa Rica. To foresee these actions and the trafficking of people will be difficult to maintain an operation along the border,” he said.

He noted that police would face continued migratory pressure.

“But this will continue from now onwards. I think this will be a daily occurrence within our police forces. To maintain the operation is what we have been ordered to do. To prevent them coming into our country when their papers are irregular and to maintain activity until it is necessary,” Mata said

Riot police were called to Costa Rica’s border area with Panama on Thursday after more than 1,000 Cuban citizens forced their way into the country in a desperate effort to reach the United States.