(EFE).- A little over three months ago, Ecuador joined a growing list of countries in Latin America that Haitian migrants are crossing on their journey north.
The migration of Haitians to the United States has been a growing phenomenon since June, when many decided to leave their homes in Brazil and Chile in search of the ‘American dream’.
But the surge in migration has also increased the lucrative business of smugglers.
Since the summer, some 450 to 650 Haitian migrants have been arriving daily in Tulcan, according to Fernando Villarroel, administrator of the bus terminal in the Ecuadorian city on the border with Colombia.
Tulcan is their last stop in Ecuador before crossing the Carchi River to Colombia, a route that has seen thousands of Venezeulan migrants in the past five years.
Upon their arrival in Tulcan, ‘coyoteros’ pick up the migrants in private vehicles, a service that costs from 15 to 25 dollars per person.
The surge of migrants and smugglers has also led to increased police presence at border points.
Ecuadorian police have led multiple operations in an attempt to stop the illegal trafficking of migrants, leading to shootings between gangs and the police.
This week, one person was killed in a shooting.
“Unfortunately (the migrants) are used by unscrupulous people who deceive these foreign citizens,” head of Carchi province police operations, Lieutenant Colonel Alejandro Flores Borja, told Efe.
The officer said some migrants have been extorted to pay over 1,000 dollars.
Over 4,000 migrants are currently waiting on Ecuadorian territory to cross into Colombia, which is asking for support from neighboring countries that are faced with a similar situation.
“There are children, we need humanitarian aid for them”, according to Jhon Rojas, governor of the Colombian department of Nariño.
Colombia reported more than 27,000 mainly Haitian people entered its territory irregularly in August, mostly from Ecuador.
The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) has expressed its concern over the situation of Haitian migrants who are in “very precarious conditions” at the U.S.-Mexico border. EFE
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