Q24N (EFE) The United States has allocated close to US$22 million dollars for humanitarian assistance for refugees and vulnerable migrants in Panama, the US embassy in the country said Monday.
Panama is the gateway to Central America from the south for irregular migrants from all over the world traveling to the United States.
The long Venezuelan crisis prompted this flow in 2022, when they arrived in Panama, many, plus 227,000 travelers in transit, an unprecedented number.
The Panamanian government affirms that the management of the crisis, which includes welcoming migrants in stations on its southern (Colombia) and northern (Costa Rica) borders – where it takes their biometric data and offers them health and food assistance – has cost some US$50 million dollars since 2020, and has asked the US for “support”.
“The United States government allocated close to US$18 million dollars, in 2022, for humanitarian assistance for refugees and vulnerable migrants in Panama. The figure was four times greater than the amount that Panama received in 2021 (4 million),” the US embassy said on Monday.
It explained that these “are delivered to international organizations that have humanitarian assistance programs in Panama, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Pan-American Foundation for Development”.
Funds from the US government “allow international organizations to offer physical and mental health services to migrants, in addition to personal hygiene products, clothing and footwear.”
Likewise, the diplomatic mission added in a press release, “they have helped to make improvements in the facilities of the migratory shelters and the host communities, in addition to training Panamanian officials and community leaders in the prevention of crimes and humanitarian attention.”
“IT IS ESSENTIAL TO ATTACK” THE CAUSES OF MIGRATION
The new ambassador of the United States in Panama, Mari Carmen Aponte, visited the areas of the border province of Darién where irregular migrants arrive after crossing the dangerous jungle of the same name.
“The stories of the migrants are heartbreaking. This is a dangerous journey that no one should undertake,” said Aponte, according to the statement from the diplomatic mission.
The ambassador declared that “it is essential to attack the situations that lead people to leave their countries, and also to create mechanisms to guarantee humane, safe and orderly migration.”
“We are working closely with Panama on this,” said the ambassador during a tour of the San Vicente shelter, a recently inaugurated temporary immigration station that has 544 beds, drinking water, electricity, sanitary bathrooms, a water reserve tank, kitchen and food storage area, dining room and a clinic, according to official information.
During this visit to Darién, “I have tried to talk with everyone involved in the management of irregular migration in Panama, from the personnel of international organizations that seek to heal their physical and emotional wounds, to the security forces that protect the area and, above all, with migrants, who are in such a vulnerable situation that it leads countries to unite in the search for solutions,” said Aponte.