More than 200 Ghanaians are reported to be stranded at the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border post of Penas Blancas in their attempt to transit into the United States of America (USA).
A press release issued by the Information Services Department (ISD) in Accra yesterday said there had been a steady surge of Ghanaian migrants to Cuba in South America over the past year, especially following the commencement of airlines from Accra to Havana in November, 2016.
The release, signed by the acting Director of ISD, Ms Elizabeth Efua Essel, said most of the migrants were deceived by syndicates in Ghana that they had collaborators in Cuba who could immediately facilitate their entry into the USA after they had arrived in that country.
“The Ghanaians, however, become stranded with no means of catering for themselves,” the statement said.
The ISD, therefore, has warned members of the public to beware of travel and tour operators, especially in Accra and Kumasi, who advertise on the various media platforms that prospective travellers could travel to the USA through Cuba.
The release said some of the travel and tour operators were engaged in new business ventures in Accra and Kumasi where, in order to make money, would cause several adverts to be run at vantage points on some various websites such as www.tonaton. com on the pretext of helping people to travel to America only for them to be stranded in Cuba with severe immigration complexities.
It said information received by the ISD from the Ministry of the Interior had indicated that the Cuban Immigration Authority was in the process of adopting immigration reforms aimed at restricting the entry of African migrants, especially Ghanaians, from using Cuba as an entry point into the USA, Central America and other Caribbean countries.
“These strict immigration reforms follow interrogations of mostly Ghanaian nationals and some Nigerians, who informed Cuban authorities that the country is being used as a conduit to the USA in particular.
“The reforms are, therefore, intended to curtail the surge of African migrants, observed especially from Ghana since 2015, and to maintain international and regional standards in human trafficking and migration flows.
“Consequently, the Cuban immigration authorities have unofficially begun refusing entry to, and deporting African migrants immediately on their arrival in the country, in spite of valid visas,” the statement said.
Costa Rica was best known for its vacation beaches and lush rain forests but recently, it has become a thoroughfare for tens of thousands of migrants from South America and elsewhere who are hoping to reach the US.
Many were from the Caribbean, but a significant number trekking through the country were Africans and Southeast Asians, and collectively, they are straining Costa Rica’s welcoming reputation.