Record number of immigrants passed through Darien in 1st Qtr of 2023
- By : James Bryson
- Category : Darien, Immigration
So far this year, a record number of 78,585 migrants have crossed the dangerous Darién jungle on foot, the natural border that divides Panama and Colombia, which is five times more than the figures registered in 2022, according to an alert this Saturday by the Ministry of Panamanian Public Security.
With a week to go before the end of March, only this month they identified 29,294 migrants who crossed the Darién jungle from Colombia, surpassing the February figures, with 24,657, the Minister of Public Security reported in a statement and on social networks. Juan Manuel Pino, who visited this border region.
“As has been seen this year, more migrants are going to come, that’s what you see to the south. We already have very high numbers, where there is an entry of more than a thousand people daily,” said Pino, who toured with other authorities the border area of Cañas Blancas.
2022 had already marked a record year in the arrival of migrants to Panama through the Darién jungle, with more than 248,000, which in turn represented almost double those identified in 2021. The Panamanian authorities estimate that this year they could cross its territory 400,000 migrants, breaking all records.
And it is that if in the first three months of 2022 13,791 people had crossed the jungle, this year 78,585 already did so. In addition, in March of last year, 4,827 migrants crossed this border, while in this unfinished month almost 30,000 have already done so.
This situation underscores “the responsibility we have in security, we also have to see this issue from other perspectives and involve other authorities,” Pino said.
HUMAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
With one hand, the minister underscored the human drama of this crisis: “This is an inhospitable point in Panama where entire families go looking for a better future towards the United States, being the nationals of Venezuela, Haiti and Ecuador the most frequent” .
But he also highlighted “the environmental impact” to the jungle due to the massive flow of migrants, witnessing a negative change since his last visit to the place three months ago, with “shocking images” of mountains of garbage in that natural area.
The Vice President of Panama himself, José Gabriel Carrizo, highlighted this Saturday during the Ibero-American Summit in Santo Domingo the situation in the Darién National Park, a protected area that is nevertheless suffering the effect of the migration crisis.
“Thousands of people risk their lives every day, crossing this sanctuary of biodiversity, in a migratory flow that threatens to overwhelm us,” Carrizo remarked.
Thus, he added “the international community is called upon to generate wills that, while safeguarding human existence, preserve this natural heritage for future generations.”
These migrants cross this jungle on foot for several days, one of the most dangerous border crossings in the world, where natural obstacles such as swollen rivers and wild animals are compounded by robberies at gunpoint and anglerfish.
On this journey, migrants are stripping of the few belongings they carry with them, or they are robbed, leaving them with nothing, pieces of clothing and other objects that are left along the route, negatively impacting those natural places.
Human excrement and the dead also contaminate the waters of the rivers, later making the migrants who drink it and the indigenous communities of the region sick, who have suffered a drastic change in their way of life with this migratory exodus.