Q24N (EFE) At least 21,307 migrants crossed the Darién Gap on the Colombian-Panamanian border in January, a figure that is four times higher than the 4,702 people in the first month of 2022, the Colombian Ombudsman reported this Friday.
“It is urgent that the authorities implement actions to attend to this population group together with the transit and host communities, which means establishing medical attention points, assistance for children and the elderly,” said the Colombian ombudsman, Carlos Camargo, in a statement from his office.
The official also called for “controls by authorities so that migrants do not become victims of migrant smuggling networks and human trafficking, among other risks associated with migration processes.”
In 2022, Camargo explained, 248,284 people crossed the border between Colombia and Panama, of which 150,327 were Venezuelan, 29,356 Ecuadorian, 22,435 Haitian, 5,961 Cuban and 5,064 Colombian.
That is why Camargo warned of the need to reduce the risks of violations of the rights of migrants, particularly children, adolescents, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the elderly.
Panamanian authorities confirmed that, up to Wednesday of this week, more than 31,000 illegal migrants traveling to North America have crossed the dangerous 266-kilometer trek of Darien jungle so far this year.
This is according to data provided to EFE by Panama’s immigration service, the Servicio Nacional de Migración de Panamá (SNM).
15% of travelers so far this year are “people in a special state of vulnerability: boys, girls and adolescents,” the deputy director of the SNM, María Isabel Saravia, told EFE.
Last January, 24,634 people arrived in the Panamanian province of Darién, five times more than in the same month the previousyear. And so far in February 6,976 had done so, of which 1,156 arrived on Tuesday.
According to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 36 migrants died in 2022 when they crossed the Darién, where travelers face the dangers of a wild environment – wild animals, swollen rivers, ravines – as well as the presence of organized crime, which has used the area for decades to traffic drugs, weapons and people.
That death toll is possibly “only a small fraction of the true number of lives lost” in that area, the IOM warned last January.
Many of these migrants are also victims of robberies and sexual violence, including minors. In Panama, people responsible for these attacks on migrants have already been arrested and convicted.