- The record figure is five times higher than that registered in the first three months of 2022. Photo: EFE
So far this year, a record number of 78,585 migrants have crossed the dangerous Darien jungle on foot, the natural border that divides Panama and Colombia. This is five times more than the figures registered in 2022, according to the Panamanian Ministry of Public Security.
With a week to go before the end of March, only this month they identified 29,294 migrants who crossed the Darién jungle from Colombia, surpassing the February figures, with 24,657, the Minister of Public Security reported in a statement and on social networks. Juan Manuel Pino, who visited this border region.
As has been seen this year, more migrants will come. That’s what you see to the south. We already have very high figures, where there is an entry of more than 1,000 people daily,” said Pino, who toured the Cañas Blancas border area with other authorities.
2022 had already marked a record year in the arrival of migrants to Panama through the Darién jungle, with more than 248,000, which in turn represented almost double those identified in 2021. The Panamanian authorities estimate that this year they could cross its territory 400,000 migrants, breaking all records.
And it is that if in the first three months of 2022 13,791 people had crossed the jungle, this year 78,585 already did so. In addition, in March of last year, 4,827 migrants crossed this border. While in this unfinished month almost 30,000 have already done so.
This situation underscores “the responsibility we have in terms of security. We also have to see this issue with other perspectives and involve other authorities,” Pino highlighted.
Impact of the situation
On the one hand, the minister underscored the human drama of this crisis: “This is an inhospitable part of Panama where entire families go looking for a better future for the United States. Being the nationals of Venezuela, Haiti and Ecuador the most frequent”.
But he also highlighted “the environmental impact” to the jungle due to the massive flow of migrants, witnessing a negative change since his last visit to the place three months ago, with “shocking images” of mountains of garbage in that natural setting.
On Saturday, March 25, during the Ibero-American Summit in Santo Domingo, the Vice President of Panama, José Gabriel Carrizo, highlighted the situation in the Darién National Park. A protected area that, however, is suffering the effect of the migratory crisis.
Thousands of people risk their lives every day, crossing this sanctuary of biodiversity, in a migratory flow that threatens to overwhelm us”, remarked Carrizo.
Thus, he added, “the international community is called upon to generate wills that, while safeguarding human existence, preserve this natural heritage for future generations.”
These migrants cross this jungle on foot for several days, one of the most dangerous border crossings in the world, where natural obstacles such as swollen rivers and wild animals are compounded by robberies at gunpoint and rape.
On this journey, migrants are stripping of the few belongings they carry with them, or they are robbed, leaving them with nothing, pieces of clothing and other objects that are left along the route, negatively impacting those natural places.
Human excrement and the dead also contaminate the waters of the rivers, later making the migrants who drink it and the indigenous communities of the region sick, who have suffered a drastic change in their way of life with this migratory exodus.
With information from EFE