In the first three months alone, almost 66,000 people have crossed the jungle
The migratory crisis worsens and may reach record numbers this year. Almost 66,000 people have crossed the jungle in the first three months of 2023 alone, which is why specialists in migration issues consider that it is time for Panama to seek definitive solutions, because this is costing the country millions of dollars.
Directed spending for migrant care amounts to more than $50 million between 2020 and 2022.
According to Luciano Yanes, a member of the Migration Rights Commission of the National Bar Association, this year’s figure is higher than what was reported in the same period, but in 2022 there were more than 13,000 foreigners.
“This is worrying because this year there will be a record number,” said the jurist, reiterating that Panama has not heard the voice for help that it has requested from the organizations that have to do with the care of migrants and they have left the country alone with the immigration problem.
He cited that the more the flow increases, the more it costs the State that offers shelter, food, medical attention, and security to this population without receiving help.
Every day, 1,000 migrants cross the border sector of Paso Canoas, explained Jorge Bosques, executive of the western brigade of the National Border Service.
But last year there was talk, according to a report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), that the Darién jungle reached a record number in 2022, doubling that of last year. Almost 250,000 people have crossed into Panama in 2022, compared to around 133,000 in 2021. “If things continue as they are, we will exceed half a million,” Yanes said.
For Nadia Pérez de Singh, a specialist in Immigration Law, this flow shows that controls must be strengthened and measures must be vigorous, because it costs millions of dollars a month that can be used for other needs in the country .
This increase occurs despite the fact that the authorities, such as the Ombudsman, Eduardo Leblanc González, have pointed out that the Darién jungle is not for anyone who is untrained, much less for children.
The director of the National Migration Service, Samira Gozaine, highlighted that 20% of those who have entered Panama this year through the Darién Gap are children and 80% of these children are under 5 years of age, we are talking about a tragedy of incomparable proportions, “Panama in its humanitarian approach does everything possible,” he said.
According to the IOM, last year 36 migrants died trying to cross the jungle area of Darién. This year there are seven, two of them by immersion.
Between January and February 2023, the immigration authorities registered 9,656 children and adolescents out of a total of 45,727 migrants.