The migrants who crossed the dangerous Darien jungle, which separates Colombia of Panamaso far this year they have exceeded 100,000, six times more than in the same period of 2022, revealed on Friday the United Nations Organization (UN)citing official figures from the isthmus.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned in a joint statement that, if the trend continues, in 2023 more than 400,000 people could cross the Darién Gap, the impassable jungle that marks the beginning of the long and dangerous route followed by thousands of migrants to the United States.
“After 2022 was a record year, in which nearly 250,000 refugees and migrants risked their lives crossing the Darién in search of protection and better opportunities, the first quarter of 2023 points to an increase in the transit of people through this via”says the statement.
“Panama faces one of the most challenging crises of mixed movements in the last decade, as part of an unprecedented displacement across the Americas”added UNHCR and IOM.
Most of the migrants who crossed the Darién are from Venezuela. They are followed by people from Haiti and Ecuador. In recent years, 7.1 million Venezuelans have fled their country, according to UN figures, trying to escape the protracted economic and social collapse of the once-prosperous oil nation.
Those who cross the Darien Gap or arrive via maritime routes from South America are exposed to violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking, and disease.
“It is urgent to work on a protection-based regional solution to respond to this unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the Americas”the statement said.
Earlier in the week, the United States, Panama, and Colombia agreed to establish a 60-day plan to address irregular migration through the Darien, dismantle human smuggling groups, and create jobs in border communities.
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