Panama slams aid groups for encouraging illegal migration

Photo of author

By Lourdes Hurtado M.

On Sunday, the government of Panama accused international agencies of incentivizing irregular migration by giving in Colombia “maps on how to cross the jungle.”

International agencies give (migrants) maps of how to cross the jungle, knowing that they are going to be raped, that they will steal them. They give them maps to come through that dangerous jungle. It is a great irresponsibility, said the director of Migration, Samira Gozaine, following the denunciation of an NGO of the increase in sexual rape in the Darién, the inhospitable jungle on the border between Colombia and Panama.

At the end of February Doctors Without Borders (MSF) denounced an increase in sexual rape and in the “brutality” suffered by many migrants in the Darién jungle, on the border between Colombia and Panama.

According to NGO figures, in January criminal gangs operating in the area raped three women on average on average and in February the figure rose to 16 per day.

“There is nothing humanitarian about allowing them to pass through the Darién if you know,” Gozaine said in a video broadcast by Migration on social network X.

Migrations notes that, as of March 8, at least 82,000 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, crossed the inhospitable and dangerous forest, 575,000 hectares of land, which in recent years has become a corridor for migrants trying to reach the United States from South America.

In 2023, a record of more than 520,000 people crossed this dangerous route. Of these, about 120,000 were minors.

Following MSF’s complaint, Panama ordered the organization to suspend operations in the country for concealing data from migrants who reported sexual rape.

If they have that information, the first thing they should do responsibly, and according to the law obliges them, is to file the relevant complaints with the relevant evidence, which they have not done, Gozaine said.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in La Prensa NI