Guatemala police find 126 migrants in shipping container

Haitian migrants seeking refuge in the US wait to be processed, in Monterrey, Mexico, on Oct 4, 2021.
Haitian migrants seeking refuge in the US wait to be processed, in Monterrey, Mexico, on Oct 4, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

GUATEMALA CITY (AFP) - Guatemalan police said on Saturday (Oct 9) they had rescued 126 mostly Haitian migrants abandoned inside a shipping container as they hoped to travel to Mexico and on to the United States.

The migrants were found at dawn after a report of an abandoned trailer on a road between the towns of Nueva Concepcion and Cocales in southern Guatemala, police spokesman Jorge Aguilar told reporters.

"We heard cries and knocks coming from inside the container. We opened the doors and found inside 126 undocumented people: 106 from Haiti, 11 from Nepal and nine from Ghana," he said.

The group was taken to a shelter run by the Guatemalan Migration Institution.

Central America, where each year thousands of Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans set out for the United States in search of a better life, has been faced in recent months with a massive migration crisis.

Thousands of migrants, most of them Haitians, are embarking on dangerous and harrowing journeys to reach the United States by crossing through Central America and Mexico.

Since the start of 2021, more than 50 migrants have died while trying to cross a jungle corridor called the Darien Gap in Panama, on the border with Colombia, according to the Panamanian prosecutor's office.

The International Organisation for Migration said Friday that more than 7,500 Haitian migrants have been deported in less than three weeks by the United States, which has chartered 70 flights for the deportations.

The Mexican government has also repatriated Haitian migrants to Port-au-Prince.