U.S.-bound migrants face bottleneck in Colombia

Thousands of miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border to the south, another border crisis is unfolding…

Throngs of mostly Haitian migrants in the Colombian beach town of Necocli are causing a major bottleneck awaiting their turn to enter Panama and continue their journey to the U.S.

Mayor Jorge Tobon Castro says new arrivals have pushed the town to the brink.

"Today we are experiencing another crisis due to the holding up of more than 14,000 migrants that we have in the municipality of Necocli, because more than 1,000 or 1,200 migrants arrive in Necocli daily and we can only dispatch 500 on the boats.''

The majority of the migrants moving through Necocli are Haitian or Cuban Others come from African nations like Ghana and Mali.

The lifting of COVID-19 border closures sent the number of migrants soaring, with the foreign ministers of Colombia and Panama agreeing last month that 650 migrants could initially cross per day, with the quota gradually falling to 500.

But each day more than double that number arrive, often camping on the beach awaiting their turn for boat transport.

Many of the migrants told stories of being robbed or otherwise abused during their journey – and said the wait was expensive and stressful.

HAITIAN MIGRANT, LUIS, SAYING: ''Here life is really hard because everything is going up, food, paying for accommodation and I am traveling with four. It is difficult. I really didn't come here to stay. I want to cross but it's difficult to buy a ticket."

From the coast of Colombia... These migrants hope to cross the Gulf of Uraba toward the jungles of Panama, where smugglers guide groups on foot through one of the most treacherous stretches on the clandestine route to the United States.

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