By Lizbeth Diaz and Jackie Botts
TIJUANA/OAXACA CITY, Mexico (Reuters) – African migrants and asylum seekers heading to the US are flying into Nicaragua to bypass the Darien Hole, a harmful jungle isthmus connecting Panama and Colombia, in line with migrants interviewed by Reuters and unique U.N. knowledge.
A dozen migrants not too long ago arrived within the Mexican northern border metropolis of Tijuana and the southern metropolis of Oaxaca stated they’d flown into the Central American nation, the place many African nationalities can acquire a low-cost visa.
The migrants hailed from Mali, Angola, Guinea and Senegal, and nearly all stated they knew in regards to the risks of Darien, which may solely be traversed on foot.
A number of stated they’d gone to Nicaragua after listening to macabre tales of people that had confronted Darien’s lethal perils.
“Once I began planning my journey I informed myself: I do not need to die there,” stated a 32-year-old migrant from western Mali, who defined he had fled the nation attributable to conflict and violence.
“I need to dwell safely,” he stated from a shelter in Tijuana, claiming to have paid a trafficker greater than $10,000. He requested to stay nameless for safety causes.
Sitting outdoors a bus terminal in Oaxaca metropolis, Souleymane, a 29-year-old Senegalese man who requested to be recognized by his first title solely, stated that relations in New York had paid for his passage to Nicaragua. Souleymane gestured that it had been exorbitantly costly, although he declined to offer the quantity.
“The political disaster (in Senegal) scares us,” he stated.
A number of migrants stated they discovered in regards to the alternate route by social networks and from human traffickers.
Historically many individuals making an attempt to succeed in the US have flown into Brazil or different South American international locations, however information of this alternate route has unfold by phrase of mouth.
Authorities in Nicaragua didn’t instantly reply to a Reuters request for data on the problem.
Reuters obtained unique entry to knowledge from the U.N.’s Worldwide Group for Migration (IOM), scheduled to be revealed Wednesday in a report, which underlines the dimensions of the phenomenon.
In a press release to Reuters, the IOM previewed the findings of the report, together with that “African and Cuban migrants are more and more selecting air routes to succeed in Central American international locations, avoiding the Darien jungle.”
Between January and July, some 4,100 African migrants crossed Darien, a 65% lower in comparison with the identical interval in 2022, the assertion stated.
Individually, it additionally stated 19,412 African migrants crossed Honduras – Nicaragua’s northern neighbor – within the first seven months of 2023, a 553% improve from the identical interval in 2022.
Solely 524 Cubans have been reported in Darien throughout that interval, in distinction to the 17,157 recorded in Honduras.
The information recommend that 1000’s of African and Cuban migrants have opted for the Nicaragua route in latest months.
Varied worldwide organizations such because the U.N. have warned of the dangers migrants face crossing Darien. These can vary from starvation, damage, animal bites to theft, violent assaults and sexual assault.
Regardless of the shift seen amongst African and Cuban migrants, a report of about 82,000 folks final month entered Panama overland from South America, in line with the IOM.
In the meantime, an unprecedented variety of migrants have entered Mexico from different continents, because the trek to the U.S. southern border more and more turns into a world migration route sought by folks fleeing violence, financial misery and the rising impacts of local weather change in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The variety of African migrants registered by Mexican authorities up to now this yr is already 3 times as excessive as throughout all 2022.
(This story has been refiled to repair formatting errors)