(AP) SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Costa Rican authorities detained 54 U.S.-bound migrants from Africa and Nepal after their boat arrived on the Central American country’s coast, officials said Sunday.
Authorities were treating some of the migrants for dehydration after several days at sea and took into custody three suspected Colombian smugglers who were traveling with them, said Sergio Lopez, a spokesman for Costa Rica’s security ministry.
Officials originally said all 54 migrants were from Africa. But after interviewing them, authorities reported 15 were from Nepal and 39 from Africa.
One migrant asked a Costa Rican policeman upon arrival: “How close is this country to the United States?” according to the newspaper Al Dia.
The security ministry released a statement quoting one migrant as saying he left Nepal for India, where he stayed a month, before heading to South Africa. From there he caught the boat promising to take him to the United States.
Migration Director Mario Zamora said the seven women and 47 men would be taken to a detention center in San Jose to join 41 other migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Guinea detained in June and July on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.
Zamora said the arrival of migrants from Africa is not just a problem for Costa Rica, but has also affected Colombia, Panama and Nicaragua.