More than 40,000 migrant children have crossed this year 2023 the dangerous jungle of the Darién, the natural border between Panama and Colombia, some abandoned and others found next to the corpse of their mother, according to figures and testimonies collected by the Panamanian authorities.
A report from the National Migration Service (SNM) released this Sunday by the Panamanian Ministry of Public Security (Minseg), details that so far this year 40,458 migrant children (21,135 boys and 19,323 girls) They have passed in transit through the Darien jungle.
The infants have been exposed to the “dangers of mighty rivers, steep hills, ravines and the habitat of dangerous jaguars and poisonous snakes,” the authorities emphasize.
Similarly, the Minseg pointed out that according to the statistical figures provided by Migration, in the last four years 612,705 people crossed the Colombian-Panamanian border, of which 20% are children, that is, 120,000 minors “forced to migrate, some with their parents, relatives and even alone.”
“There is a lot of concern because they are migrant children from their social environment and taken from their schools to make a dangerous journey, where they are exposed to criminal groups,” said the Minister of Public Security, José Manuel Pino.
“Some have not sat in an educational center for two or three years and others, along this route, they are victims of crimes against their integrity, suffer from inclement weather, go hungry, cold, afraid or are separated from their parents in the jungle,” said the director of the National Migration Service, Zamira Gozaine.
Gozaine indicated that there are testimonies that claim to have found “abandoned children and others next to the corpse of their mothers”, and remarked that in all these statements “it is clear that organized crime is the only beneficiary, (that) encourages and encourages irregular migration through the Darien jungle and other routes”.
The head of the SNM affirmed in this sense that Panama “does not generate irregular migration nor is it a participant in it”, and said that those who are inside the border will continue to be given humanitarian treatment while other alternative means are sought so that they can get “wherever they want to go, but in a safe and dignified way.”
The Panamanian authorities reported this week that the number of migrants who have crossed the Darién jungle so far this year already exceeds 200,000, an unprecedented figure that multiplies by four the 49,452 who crossed this border in the first half of 2022.
Panama receives irregular travelers heading to North America at immigration stations located near its southern border with Colombia and on the northern border with Costa Rica, where it offers them healthcare and food, in a unique operation on the continent that involves a dozen of international organizations.