Far From The Mediterranean: African Migrants Cross The Americas
Necocli, Colombia, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Feb, 2021 ) :Ahmed Kabeer fled his homeland of Sudan where he was tortured and traveled thousands of miles to find himself in a new hell: the ominous jungle that straddles Colombia and Panama.
"There is a route" through Latin America, said Kabeer, who has a huge scar on his left leg and walks with a limp.
They are united by anxiety.
Almost 700 migrants have been held up in Necocli, Colombia for weeks.
Arriving in South America was the easy part for Kabeer, 34.
"I find it's not very difficult that Brazil gives visas for people," he said.
The route to the US passes through Panama and on northwards through Central America.
Visas won't be a problem now given the porous borders he will cross, but he'll need money for bribes.
The next year, Kabeer's mother and uncle were murdered.
He returned to Sudan but a year later was captured by the security forces.
Kabeer insists he was tortured due to his tribal association. A scar stretching down his calf to his Achilles tendon bears witness to his suffering.
In desperation he traveled as a tourist to Sao Paulo last year. Upon arrival he continued another 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) over land.
It will likely take seven to 10 weeks just to reach Mexico.
"It's a route that is not safe 100 percent so I will find some difficulties," Kabeer acknowledged.
The probability of suffering "physical and psychological violence is very high throughout the whole journey, especially between Colombia and Panama," a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration said.
But these migrants feel the risks are worth it.
"Even if you've finished your studies, even if you're intelligent," he said.
The crossing of the Darien Gap happens mainly at night and can take five or six days.
As well as coming across swamps and snakes, there is the risk of running into drug-traffickers transporting cocaine into Central America.
Locals say they have little sympathy for migrants, though authorities can be more welcoming.
The pandemic has cut down the numbers -- in 2019 there were more than 5,000.
Mohammed Al-Gaadi is another to have ruled out crossing the Mediterranean.
The 50 year-old chauffeur fled Yemen, where war broke out in 2014.
"There is no route that is good and safe for me," he said.
"Here we spend money in everything and we don't work," he complained.
Getting this far has already been costly for Fofana, who worked for six months in Brazil.
"I've already spent almost $10,000 to leave Africa to get here," he said.
Kabeer made it to Panama after five days, but others didn't.