SAN JOSE – Costa Rican authorities found Saturday 54 African immigrants in an unseaworthy boat on this country’s Caribbean coast and detained three crew members suspected of the crime of people trafficking.
A Security Ministry official said that the Africans had gone several days without water or food, and for that reason doctors went to attend them on the coast of Limon province, close to where the immigrants were found.
Of the 54 immigrants, seven are women and it is possible that most of them came from Eritrea.
Police suspect that the group of Africans could have been abandoned at sea by an international ring of people traffickers.
Authorities took into custody three of the boat’s crew for questioning as suspected people traffickers. Their identities and nationalities are still unknown.
The arrival of Africans in Costa Rica is becoming more and more common. In 2008 the authorities of this Central American country deported 25 immigrants from Eritrea who had entered illegally.
With the 54 immigrants found Saturday, the undocumented Africans detained in Costa Rica to date in 2009 number 95, since in previous months 41 were caught arriving from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Guinea.
Those 41 Africans sought refuge and are currently confined to a special center for illegal immigrants waiting for their status to be normalized.
Costa Rican authorities believe that Africans are transported by people-trafficking rings that charge each one up to $7,000 to take them to the United States, but instead leave them abandoned to their fate in the Caribbean.
Defenders of human rights in Costa Rica recall that these people are escaping areas plunged in wars and conflicts.