Panamanian indigenous people to evacuate to mainland as rising sea levels threaten their island home

Threatened by the disappearance of the island where they live, Panamanians from the Gardí Sugdub community (Guna Yala region) will be transferred to the mainland, a government source confirmed today.

According to authorities of the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc), the evacuation of the inhabitants will begin on 29 May, in the face of the threat of rising sea levels, as a result of climate change.

The idea of transferring the inhabitants of this island comes after a report submitted by Sinaproc, which indicated the dangers of sea level rise, and State institutions articulated the creation of a new community on land and transfer.

According to Oriel Ortega, secretary of the Comprehensive Cabinet of Risks, the archipelago of Guna Yala has more than 300 islands, 49 of which are inhabited, and it is estimated that, from 50 years from now, everyone will have to be transferred to the mainland.

For their part, sources from the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Planning specified that in the new community called Nuevo Cartí the necessary adjustments were made so that these people can maintain their culture and traditions.

Among other facilities they built the House of Congress and the Casa de la Chicha, related to the work of their traditional authorities and the celebration of parties.

The official explained that about 1,500 people will be made up of this community, and that the transfer will be suspended on weekends, just when they carry out their tourist activities.

The island where the natives of Gardí Sugdub live will be one of the first to disappear in the island country as a result of sea level rise and with that event, the community that has lived there for decades will be the first in Latin America to be officially displaced by climate change.