Over 185,000 migrants have crossed the Darién jungle

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By LatAm Reports Staff Writers

Of this total, 122,616 are Venezuelans, followed by some 12,239 Ecuadorians and 12.059 Colombians.

Some 186,969 migrants, most of them Venezuelans, have crossed the dangerous jungle of Darién, the border between Panama and Colombia, so far in 2024 on their way to North America in search of better living conditions, the Panamanian government reported Thursday.

Of this total, 122,616 are Venezuelans, followed by some 12,239 Ecuadorians and 12.059 Colombians. In addition, 10,757 are from China, 10,173 from Haiti, 2,051 from India and 428 from Cuba, while the other 16,046 are of other nationalities, according to figures offered by the Panamanian National Migration Service.

So far this June alone, some 16,955 people have arrived in Panama, of whom 13,555 are adults and 3,400 are minors.

This number of migrants ,in transit so far this year is not very different from that of the end of June 2023, when the movement of 196,371 travelers was recorded. As of last May, migrants passing through Panama reached 170,214, a figure slightly higher than the 166,649 in the same month in 2023.

Agencies such as Unicef expect the arrival of 800,000 irregular travellers after more than 520,00 0 passers-by crossed the Darién in 2023, 20 per cent of them minors and adolescents, an unparalleled figure.

Panama’s elected president, José Raúl Mulino, who will take office on July 1, has promised to repatriate, with international help and respect human rights, migrants arriving in the country through the jungle.

The Panamanian authorities have pointed to the Gulf Clan, Colombia’s main criminal gang, as the “in charge” of “organizing” this great migratory flow and that in association “with Panamanians, with Latinos, with indigenous people and with Colombians they try to open routes through Panamanian territory trying to mobilize migrants, exploiting them and taking them, creating clandestine camps.”

In that regard, the United States announced last week rewards of $8 million for information that would lead to people involved in the smuggling of Gulf Clan migrants in the Darién jungle, “one of the most dangerous crossings on the planet.”

Panama receives migrants at stations with a dozen international organizations, where it takes its biometric data and offers them health care and food before boarding them on buses, which are borne by the travelers themselves, who take them to neighboring Costa Rica to continue on their way to North America.

In this context, there are reports of rape of migrants, including women and girls, at the hands of criminal groups, as well as robberies and murders.

One of the organizations that made these complaints was Doctors Without Borders (MSF) recording that at least 676 victims of sexual violence in the jungle received comprehensive medical care in 2023, adding that last January alone it recorded 120 more cases, “an act of sexual violence every three and a half hours.”

After making this complaint and a bilateral agreement, the activities of MSF in the Darién were suspended by the Panamanian Government at the beginning of March. In its replacement, it was announced this month that the organization Doctors of the World-France (MDM-France) would sign a new agreement.

This article has been translated after first appearing in PanAmerican