Recent data from the National Migration Service (SNM) show that 87,390 people walked this route to the United States in the first three months of 2023, many of them minors.
According to these records, in the same period last year, 13,791 people took this route through the dangerous jungle.
The SNM has stated that 4,905 migrants passed through the Darién Gap between 1 and 5 April, predominantly from Venezuela, Haiti and Ecuador,
The number of people crossing the Darién rainforest in Panama (en route to the United States) has increased sixfold compared with the same period in 2022.
Local authorities, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration and even the Office of the Ombudsman have all issued frequent warnings about the sharp rise in irregular migration.
The Ombudsman, Eduardo Leblanc, called for a plan to address this large wave of migration.
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Darién, Pedro Hernández, pointed out the complex humanitarian crisis and said that the situation has overwhelmed capacity to care for the migrants – who include unaccompanied minors, according to UNICEF.
Venezuelans, Haitians and Ecuadorans make up the vast majority of the migrants, but people from China, India, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Somalia and Peru have also been identified, according to the SNM.
The largest number of migrants this year – 38,099 – was recorded in March, while 24,657 were recorded in February and 24,634 in January.
The SNM statement also indicated that, of those who passed through Darién in March, 30,929 were adults and 7,170 were minors, one of the most vulnerable population groups, triggering constant alerts from UNICEF.
SNM Director, Samira Gozaine, called for an agreement among the different countries to protect these children, many of whom suffer mistreatment and end up abandoned in inhospitable terrain. Some national organizations, such as the Office of the Ombudsman, have calculated that around 400,000 people could cross the Darién rainforest in 2023 due to the increased migratory flow, almost double the 248,000 who travelled the same route last year.
In regional forums, Panamanian authorities have insisted that countries of origin, transit and destination share responsibility for addressing the unstoppable growth of these flows. PL
(Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu) – Photos: Pixabay