San José (AFP) - Hundreds of US-bound undocumented migrants demanding permission to leave a border town in Costa Rica's south have finally accepted to go to a nearby shelter organized by authorities, officials said on Friday.
"After a week of dialogue and a lot of coordination between agencies, more than 600 irregular migrants, most of them from Africa, agreed to be peacefully transported to Campo Ferial in Paso Canoas without it being necessary to use force," the Costa Rican presidency said in a statement.
The migrants, many of whom are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, had been holding out in a border no-man's land in the town of Paso Canoas in the hopes of being allowed to continue their planned journey through Central America and Mexico.
But both Costa Rica and its northern neighbor Nicaragua have recently blocked entry to migrants without visas, as the region experiences a spike in the number of Cubans traveling to the United States.
Costa Rican officials said the migrants would be taken to a shelter in Paso Canoas for interviews and medical checks before being transferred to open facilities in the southern towns of Rio Claro and Buenos Aires.
A migration agency official, Gladys Jimenez, said the migrants would be subject to some measures to keep tabs on them, such as being required to periodically sign in while their status is determined.
The migrants, all of whom were aiming to get to the United States, had crossed into Costa Rica from Panama, which is experiencing a backlog of around 3,000 Cubans unable to get across the border.