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Number of migrant children who crossed the Panamanian jungle towards the US skyrocketed in 2024

Number of migrant children who crossed the Panamanian jungle towards the US skyrocketed in 2024

More than 30,000 migrant children crossed the inhospitable Panamanian jungle of Darienroad to USA, in the first quarter of 2024, an increase of 40% compared to the same period of the previous year, reported this Wednesday Unicef.

“In the first four months of 2024, more than 30,000 children en route crossed the Darien Gap, a 40% higher compared to the same period last year”, indicated the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

Of those 30,000 minors, nearly 2,000 arrived in Panama alone or separated from their families, triple the number in the first quarter of 2023, according to Unicef.

The Darién Gap, a jungle border 266 km long and 575,000 hectares in area, has become a corridor for migrants from South America trying to reach the United States in recent years.

In 2023, more than 520,000 people crossed the jungle, despite facing dangers such as wild animals, rushing rivers and criminal groups.

“The Darien Gap is not a place for children, many children have died on this arduous and dangerous journey,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban.

So far this year, more than 150,000 migrants have crossed this route. The majority are Venezuelans, as well as Haitians, Ecuadorians and Colombians. There are also Asians, mainly Chinese, and Africans.

The elected president of Panama, José Raúl Mulino, who is due to take office on July 1, has promised to deport migrants who enter the country through the Darien.

“To end the Darién odyssey, which has no reason to exist (…), we will begin, with international help, a repatriation process with full respect for the human rights of all the people who are there”stated Mulino on May 9, upon being formally proclaimed president by the National Scrutiny Board.

Hungry and sick

This year, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported an increase in rapes of women in Darién. Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Panama and Colombia of failing to protect migrants, which was rejected by both governments.

UNICEF believes that at this rate some 800,000 people, including 160,000 children, could cross the Panamanian jungle this year, which would mean that many of them require critical humanitarian assistance.

“Women have given birth along the way, bringing new life into the world in the most challenging circumstances. “Many of those who survive the journey arrive sick, hungry, dehydrated, often with wounds and infections and in desperate need of support.”Chaiban said.

According to the note, Unicef ​​requested US$7.6 million in 2024 to address this situation, but has only received one 10%.

“Adequate funding is essential so that we can be there for children, regardless of their country of origin or destination,” added the United Nations agency.

It may interest you

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Source: Gestion

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