At least 34 Nepali emigrants heading to the United States through informal channels via South America have been detained in Costa Rica in the last five days.
Local police detained a group of seven Nepalis, along with two Bangladeshis on Friday, and 27 Nepalis on Monday, according to www.ticotimes.net, the online edition of local Tico Times.
They were arrested in separate operations carried out by Costa Rica’s National Police in the Paso Canoas, along the country’s border with Panama.
The detained Nepalis were without passports and were being transported in an SUV. They were most likely heading towards Nicaragua. The driver was arrested on the charge of human trafficking.
In a statement, Costa Rica’s Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa said the migrants’ likely final destination was the United States. “We have reports that these migrants usually arrive by sea in Ecuador and continue their journey by land, mainly to the US,” he said. The Nepali men were taken to a local health clinic for evaluation before being handed over to immigration authorities, adds the statement.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Khaga Nath Adhikari said the government was deeply concerned about the growing trend of Nepalis “being smuggled” with the agents’ false promise of job or permanent settlement in United States.
The government sometimes cannot act on time due to lack of credible information and faces challenges when there are no diplomatic relations with the country where Nepalis are detained, he added. Nepal has no diplomatic ties with Costa Rica. Embassy of Nepal in USA and Brazil are trying to make contact with Costa Rican authorities.
It was not yet known which route the Nepalis too to reach Costa Rica.