Thousands of African migrants heading to the U.S. are stranded in Costa Rica, as Nicaragua's closed-border policy denies them entry into the Central American country to continue their journey.
More than 4 thousand people, mostly from Congo, Senegal and Togo, though there are also some from Haiti and Cuba, have been residing in makeshift camps along Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua for several months.
Locals in Nicaragua have been risking their lives to help the migrants, with some in the nearby village of El Tamarindo bringing them water, food and blankets.
Several of the travelers have suffered from exhaustion and sunstroke. To help, locals took them to El Tamarindo’s evangelist church. Hours later, however, Nicaraguan riot police arrived to send the African migrants back to Costa Rica. The locals initially didn't allow them entry into the church, but the police, using batons, tear gas and rubber bullets, entered, attacking some of the migrants before placing them in buses headed back over the border.
“One police officer threatened me and said I had no right to help the blacks,” Ana Julia Jiménez, a resident of El Tamarindo, said.
This isn't new under President Daniel Ortega's government. Last year, his officials sent more than 1 thousand Cuban migrants back to Costa Rica.
“Where is the love and peace that Ortega is always talking about? Let these people through!” said Tirsa Dávila, a resident of El Tamarindo.
(h/t El Pais)