Pressure on Mexico by the Trump Administration led to a decline in migrants seeking asylum at the US Southern Border in the month of June, but reports out of South America point to an increasing number of migrants from around the world continuing to make their way north.
This large mass of asylum seekers en route to the US come from countries much further away than Central America, and before they get to the United States, they have to first make the treacherous trek through the Darien Jungle.
I drove from Medellin to the city of Turbo on Colombia’s western frontier to get a sense of who these migrants are, and from where they are coming.
Public Boat Dock Filled with Migrants En Route to the US
When I arrived, I found what I was looking for – masses of African migrants at the public boat dock.
Peter Bah left Cameroon in mid-June. “We passed through Istanbul, then we stopped at Panama, now we came to Ecuador, so we are trying to walk now back to Panama. From Panama, that’s how we go into America, which will be the safest for us.”
At the public dock in Turbo, a boat full of immigrants is headed to a place called Capurgana, which is the last spot inside Colombia, and from there they will start their walk.
No Idea What They Are About to Face
There are so many migrants who have shown up on this day that they’re having to get more boats to put them in. Many of the migrants here are not from Latin America. They’re from Africa, Bangladesh, all over the world. Most of them have no idea what they are about to face.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” Peter Bah acknowledged. “But I just pray to God to guide us through.”
Some of those making this trek through the jungle likely will not survive. But if they do, their journey will be far from over. Camps in Panama now hold as many as 10,000 migrants, and the number of those being allowed to continue north to Costa Rica is only a few hundred per week.
Fabricio Marin, the Harbor Master here in Turbo says the numbers continue to surge.
“As of yesterday, we’ve transported over 6,000 people of different nationalities – Congo, Cuba, Haiti, Pakistan, Syria, Eritrea, Bangladesh. It’s increased a lot, especially migrants from Africa,” he said.
“Many of them think that when they get here to Turbo that the worst is over, but in reality, their suffering is just beginning,” he added.
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