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  • Nicaraguan citizens wait at the Kenny Serracin stadium to be able to return to their country, David, Panama, July 3, 2020.

    Nicaraguan citizens wait at the Kenny Serracin stadium to be able to return to their country, David, Panama, July 3, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @hashcr

Published 7 July 2020
Opinion

The valid procedure for humanitarian repatriations is processed through embassies or consulates.

Panama’s National Immigration Service (SNM) Tuesday strongly warned that the organization of repatriation caravans is prohibited and threatened migrants with penalties for those who disregard that provision.

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This announcement was made regarding caravans that are being organized to leave this Central American country between July 10 and 15.

Authorities alerted foreigners, who are being contacted by people offering to help them leave the country, that such caravans have no legal validity. Besides, the migrants could be victims of scams and lose the money the caravans' organizers request from them.

The SNM threatened to cancel the permanence or residence in the Panamanian territory of those foreigners who violate the mobility restrictions decreed to control the pandemic.

In these cases, the authorities will apply what is established for foreigners who attempt "against national security, public order, morality, or public health." Possible penalties include deportation, for which people must wait in a holding shelter until the borders are reopened.

Authorities clarified that the only valid procedure for humanitarian repatriations is processed through embassies or consulates where people must make a request and wait for an authorized departure date.

On July 1, some 1,108 Nicaraguans arrived at the Albrook bus terminal in Panama City in response to alleged mass repatriation that would have been mounted from the United States, as Prensa Latina reported.

Some 800 people from that group were taken to temporary shelters because they lost their accommodation after the caravan organizers led them to believe that they would immediately leave for their country.

So far, the Panamanian authorities have coordinated actions with Nicaragua and Costa Rica to gradually repatriate citizens by land transportation.

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