Costa Rica, Panama Open Information Hubs for Migrants at Paso Canoas Border

Posted: 
05/26/15

Costa Rica - To help vulnerable migrants at the Paso Canoas border crossing between Panama and Costa Rica, IOM and the authorities of both countries have opened two specialized information hubs that will provide migrants with reliable information about their rights and services available to them.

“These assistance hubs will address a need in terms of risk prevention, assistance and information for migrants of different nationalities,” said Panamanian Migration Delegate Celmira Nuñez. Other participants at the launch included Customs Manager Luis Juárez and Xinia Contreras, Mayor of Corredores municipality.

The border crossing is the main land corridor between the two countries. In 2014, according to Panama´s National Migration Service, it was used by 421,724 people of over twenty different nationalities from the Americas, Africa and Asia.

It is also the main route for Panama’s indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé people, who traditionally migrate each year to Costa Rica to work on the coffee harvest.

The authorities have also detected a growing number of women, unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers, indigenous and people from other contents transiting through the region, who are vulnerable to trafficking, labor exploitation, sexual violence, extortion, kidnapping and other crime.

The assistance hubs will help migrants to make informed decisions and seek help if needed. In addition to providing essential information, the hubs will also flag the risks associated with illegal migration and its relationship with organized crime, including human trafficking and smuggling, kidnapping and labor exploitation.

The initiative is backed by IOM and the Permanent Commission for the Protection and Assistance of Vulnerable Migrants (COPPAMI), through IOM´s “Mesoamerica Regional Program” and the “Joint Program to Improve the Human Security of the Ngöbe and Buglé Temporary Migrants.”

Since July 2013, COPPAMI has been acting as a bilateral forum to strengthen communication, training, coordination and joint action between over 15 Costa Rican and Panamanian institutions.

For further information please contact Sofia Salas, IOM Costa Rica, Tel. +506 2212-5304. Email: ssalas@iom.int