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[Illegal] Migration at the Panama-Colombia Border

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This topic is closely related to another topic here on CL, but we are opting to keep them separate. Please refer to http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/11782-the-presidents-of-panama-and-costa-rica-have-a-pow-wow-at-the-panamonte for related information.

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Migrant flow through Panama surpasses 64,000


Posted 24/08/2021

Some 64,000 migrants have passed through the border of Panama with Colombia this year most of them Haitians says The Minister of Security, Juan Pino and the number continues to swell with 18,850 entering the country in August en-route to the United States and Canada.

The migratory situation in the region has worsened in the last three months when thousands of people of different nationalities travel through various countries in South America to reach Colombia and then through the jungle of the Panamanian province of Darien. This tour of the inhospitable region can take between seven and nine days.

The migration crisis led the authorities of Panama and Colombia to hold working meetings and join other countries in order to address the situation and ensure adequate and humanitarian treatment of migrants. Other meetings are still pending to carry out actions that are also aimed at combating illegal human trafficking.

Panama and Colombia have agreed to the controlled flow of about 600 migrants per day, until August 31; then it will be 500.

Minister Pino reported that until yesterday 2,400 migrants had been registered in Panama and reiterated that the treatment they are given is humanitarian both at the reception and at the transfer to the border.

According to figures from the Ministry of Security as of Sunday, August 22, in the shelters installed in the Darien province, the rest are located in the shelters in the Chiriquí province.

The migrants begin their journey from countries such as Brazil, Chile and Ecuador.



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Over 70,000 migrants have passed through Panama this year


Posted 02/09/2021

The Minister of Public Security, Juan Pino, reported Thursday, September 2, that a little more than 70.000 migrants have passed through the country so far this year. According to Pino, a "record figure."

The minister said that the migratory flow in 2020 was 8,500 and, in 2019, 22,100.

"Panama currently has a controlled migratory flow," in coordination with Colombia and Costa Rica said Pino, who supported this Thursday the institution's budget for the 2022 term in the Budget Commission of the National Assembly.

The official indicated that this year the increase in the number of migrants has been gradual; During the month of August alone, 25,273 migrants passed through.

"The Ministry of Security covers food, medical care, water service, electricity, installation of modular," he said.



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170 Immigrants Raped in Darien Gap


Posted 02/09/2021

The National Assembly has in its possession, information that migrants who cross the Darien Gap are victims of sexual abuse.

Deputy Elías Vigil, who chairs the sub-commission formed by the Assembly to analyze the complaints, assured that migrants are denouncing that those who abuse minors and adult women are indigenous.

“That is painful because they are minors from 5 to 8 years old until 15 years old. Wives who come with their husbands are raped in front of their partners. This is worrying, "said the deputy.

The deputy explained that the migrants report that the abuses are committed by groups of people.

Official figures speak of 20 rapes, but the doctors in charge, according to Congressman Vigil, handle a report of up to 170 rapes in two months.

 Migrants who are only passing through Panama do not want to file complaints because of the paperwork and embarrassment. In addition, they have the objective of continuing their way to the United States.

“Something must be done. We cannot remain silent ... (and let this go) unpunished, "said Deputy Zulay Rodríguez.

Panama and Colombia established a daily flow of 650 people to cross the border of both countries.



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14,000 migrants on Panama border


Posted 09/09/2021

The flow of migrants to Panamanian territory may exceed the estimated daily average in the coming days, after it was confirmed that in the Colombian town of Necoclí there are about 14,000 travelers waiting to continue on their way to the north of the continent.

The border town is one of the last stops that migrants make before entering Darién.

Jorge Augusto Tobón, mayor of Necoclí, reported that public and hospital services have collapsed. It is asking the foreign ministries of Panama and Colombia to increase the number of immigration passage permits, taking into account that it is currently at 500.

"The situation is going to get complicated because between 800 and 1,200 migrants are arriving to the municipality every day," Tobón told the newspaper El Tiempo.

The migration crisis in the region led the Panamanian and Colombian authorities to hold coordination meetings to ensure a controlled migration flow to guarantee the human rights of these travelers and prevent illegal trafficking of people.

Panama and Colombia have reiterated that they are transit countries and that most of the migrants are destined for the United States, which is why the support of the nations of the region is expected.

Robberies and rapes
The Ministry of Security of Panama reported that this year, until August, approximately 64,000 migrants had passed through Isthmian territory. The majority of Haitian nationality.

The flow of migrants through the jungle of the Panamanian province of Darien has generated additional concern for the authorities with reports of robberies, assaults and rapes.

On Wednesday the attorney in charge of Panama, Javier Caraballo, made a tour of the Darien town of Bajo Chiquito, which is the first place where these migrants arrive, to evaluate the complaints.

Caraballo announced that starting next week there will be a full-time prosecutor to receive complaints filed by migrants, reports La Prensa.

"This visit and some investigations that are being carried out reveal the participation of Panamanian and Colombian citizens in the commission of this type of criminal conduct," said Caraballo.

He stressed that it is important that the authorities of the countries that have to do with this flow of migrants coordinate in an adequate way in order to carry out joint actions to dismantle the criminal groups that are taking advantage of the migratory situation.



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Panama praised for exemplary  work on migration


Posted 12/09/2021

In the closing event of a 23-nation conference on international migration, Panama was singled out by regional authorities for what was described as exemplary the work that the country has been executing in the matter of migratory security in relation to the biometric registry.

Among the objectives of the meeting was the promotion of greater collaboration between the countries of both mechanisms to address collective challenges related to migration governance, to address irregular flows and extra-regional migration and share good practices in the management and identify the next concrete steps to jointly address these problems with respect for the human rights of migrants, in the spirit of cooperation.

In addition, they highlighted the collaboration between the actors related to migration, taking into account the current challenge that the pandemic implies for the countries.

Recommendations were also made, such as a dialogue to implement joint actions to address irregular migration, promote the implementation of additional avenues

for regular migration, and strengthen the exchange of information in order to combat illicit trafficking and human trafficking and facilitate access to asylum and international protection systems for migrants who require it, and identify mechanisms for integration and combat xenophobia.

Panama will continue to articulate efforts to favor a solution that favors, above all, the safety of people and with it, the security of the countries and their borders, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



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Twilight for 21migrant smugglers


Posted 21/09/2021

Operation “Twilight” conducted by officials the public prosecutor's office in association with the National Border Service (Senafront)   netted 21 people part of a network dedicated to the smuggling of migrants who entered the country through the Darien area and were later transferred to the border with Costa Rica so that they could continue on their way to the United States.

Raids were carried out in the provinces of Panama, West Panama, Darién, and Chiriquí, where members of the criminal network acting as “coyotes” were captured,  after charging “large amounts of money ”for the transfer of migrants.

The “Twilight” operation located collaborators of the criminal network who contacted the migrants to take them to the border with Costa Rica.

The specialized prosecutor against organized crime, Emeldo Márquez, explained that the criminal network captured migrants, mostly Haitians, Cubans, and Africans, in the migrant reception centers located in Darién and offered them, in exchange for money, to take them away. to Nicaragua.

Prosecutor Márquez said that thanks to the collaboration of the National Border Service (Senafront), the police, and the Costa Rican authorities, it was possible to mount an operation that led to the capture of those responsible for this criminal network, who may face penalties ranging from 15 to 20 years in prison.

The official said that the traffickers used a boat to bypass the checkpoints on the ground and that once on land they used various vehicles to mobilize the migrants.



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19,000  migrants stranded on Colombia border


Posted 22/09/2021

AFP- About 19,000 migrants, "mostly Haitians," are stranded in a port in northern Colombia waiting to board vessels that take them to the border with Panama said the Ombudsman, Carlos Carmago on Wednesday.

"The migrants, Camargo added, are waiting for a quota on boats that go from the small port of Necoclí to Acandí, a border community in Panama.

By an agreement between the governments of Colombia and Panama, the transit of migrants is restricted to a maximum of 650 people a day. More than 50,000 have crossed that border in 2021.

Travelers must cross the Gulf of Urabá, a sea stretch of about 60 kilometers, and circumvent the threat of the Clan del Golfo, the largest armed drug trafficking organization in the region.

The place is one of the main transit points for Haitians, Africans and Asians seeking to reach the United States through crossing to Darien Gap jungle, one of the toughest sections of the trip to North America.

According to Camargo, the companies that offer transport in small boats are selling about 250 tickets a day each, but in recent days the number of migrants in transit arriving in Necoclí are facing the impossibility of getting a ticket.

Some 11,500 people have bought tickets to make the trip before October 13. "There is an undetermined number of people who have not been able to acquire their tickets" and resort to crossing the sea in "illegal boats," added the Ombudsman.

In January and July of this year, authorities had already reported the overflow of the Necoclí port, a population of about 45,000 inhabitants. Travelers often camp on the beach.

Tens of thousands of migrants, especially Haitians, have arrived at the Mexican border with the United States in recent months. Many of them made the transit through Colombia.

The massive influx of Haitians who have gathered under a bridge in the border town of Del Rio, Texas, has become a problem for the  Biden administration. The US government has resorted to expelling them by plane back to their country.



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US envoy to Haiti  resigns over “inhumane” deportations


Posted 23/09/2021

AFP - The United States special envoy in Haiti resigned from office on Thursday, two months after his appointment, denouncing the deportations by the Joe Biden government of thousands of Haitians crossing the border from Mexico.

Meanwhile, Panama has gained international attention with some 19,000 migrants, mostly  Haitians stranded near the Colombian-Panama border.

"I will not associate myself with the inhumane and counterproductive decision of the United States to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal migrants to Haiti," said State Department special envoy Daniel Foote in his resignation letter.

In the text, addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken , Foote described Haiti as a place where American diplomats "are confined to security facilities due to the dangers posed by the armed gangs that control daily life."

"Plunged in poverty and held hostage to terror," the Haitian population "simply cannot bear the forced flow of thousands of returning migrants who lack food, shelter, and money without provoking a new and inevitable human tragedy," he wrote.

The official's resignation comes after the US government began last week to board Haitian citizens who entered the United States from Mexico to take them back to their country.

Haitians are part of a wave of thousands of migrants crowded for several weeks in the Mexican cities of Tapachula (southern border with Guatemala) and Ciudad Acuña (north, bordering Texas).

Haitian migrants arrive mainly from Brazil and Chile, where they had emigrated after the 2010 earthquake that left some 200,000 dead in Haiti.



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Cortizo calls  on UN for joint action on migration crisis


Posted 23/09/2021

President Laurentino Cortizo, in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, called on the international community to jointly address the migratory crisis that Panama is facing and that entails a "responsibility" for the entire region. 

He said that this crisis is growing exponentially, ensuring that in January, Panama was receiving 800 migrants, but in August of this year, the figure increased to 30,000.

"Our country in a responsible manner, respectful of human rights, provides dignified treatment to these migrants and offers them temporary shelter, medical assistance, and food," said Cortizo.

He called on the international community to make a joint effort with coordinated strategies and resources as soon as possible to anticipate a regional humanitarian crisis of great proportions.

"We dedicate a part of our limited resources. Panama does its part. This is everyone's responsibility and it is now. I have listened to many speeches and speeches with great depth. But we have to go from speeches to concrete actions," he stressed.

Climate change
He then spoke about climate change, stating that the serious problems facing the planet are related to it.

“What else do world leaders need to understand that it is a very high priority problem?” he asked.

He highlighted that Panama is one of three countries in the world classified as carbon-negative being the country with "the best maritime and air connectivity in Latin America and the Caribbean." He indicated that it has been understood that what is good for the planet is good for the economy and for each of the countries.

He also highlighted that Panama is a blue world leader, complying with the 30x30 initiative to protect 30% of the oceans, a goal reached 9 years before the set date.

“Panama offers itself once again as a bridge to bring nations closer together, seek common and concrete solutions to problems, and face regional and global challenges. We can do it with a route marked by solidarity and respect for Human Rights, through broad and honest dialogues to maintain social peace, "he said.



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Investigation of 14 migrant deaths in Darien


Posted 25/09/2021

The Darien Regional Prosecutor's Office is investigating the discovery of a skeleton and 13 bodies allegedly corresponding to migrants. The first discovery was near the Tuqueza and Canaán Membrillo rivers, in the Emberá Wounaán region, on Thursday, September 23 included a minor between 8 and 10 years of age.

The investigation is in charge of the superior prosecutor Julio Vergara Castillo, prosecutor of Darién.

"One skeleton and five bodies were found, through a search initiated by members of the Prosecutor's Office and the National Border Service for people who were reported missing by a group of migrants," said the MP. On Friday morning, September 24, another four bodies were discovered. According to the superior prosecutor, none of the bodies carried identification documents.



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Business chamber faces heart-breaking migration crisis


Posted 26/09/2021

The migratory phenomenon of the XXI century is a world reality that should not be politicized or aligned with agendas but needs productive efforts on the part of all the actors in society at the international level says Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (Cciap) in its weekly newsletter on Sunday, September 3.

 When dealing with the migratory crisis, “there are no sole or exclusive solutions” said the Chamber.

During the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, President Cortizo called on nations to make a joint effort to confront irregular migration, with strategies and resources to “anticipate a regional humanitarian crisis of serious proportions. ”

For the Cciap, it is "positive" that Panama seeks support in articulating efforts in the concert of nations since the problem is greater than local capacities.

“The efforts seem to be beginning to show the reality of the country around the world. This makes it possible to connect with sources of support and provide access to international cooperation agendas.” stated the organization.

However, the Chamber  indicated that the findings reported on the investigations carried out by the Commission for Women, Children, Youth and the Family of the National Assembly on the Colombian-Panamanian border as well as in the shelters of the province of Chiriquí The accounts of the harassment suffered by migrants "are heartbreaking, to say the least.”

Panama, as a signatory of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration of the United Nations has commitments to human rights within the context of the universal and regional system that frames its responsibility as a country towards migrants.

In view of this, the Cciap emphasized the need to follow up on what was reported by the investigations on the complaints reported by migrants during their journey through the Darien jungle.

"At the crossroads, the country has to present itself in front of the other nations of the continent as a leader and sit at the table of decisions and actions both its neighbors and the other countries of the region in order to find shared solutions, where respect of the human condition of the migrants prevails.” said the union.



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68 Cuban migrants rescued from Darien jungle


Posted 02/10/2021

Some 68 Cubans, including 16 children, abandoned by smugglers, were rescued from the Darien by Panama’s Border Protection Service (Senafront) on Friday, October 1.

Units of the Pacific Battalion Jaqué located the migrants and with the support of artisanal boats from the Guayabo community, completed the rescue operation.

The Senafront reported that the migrants had been abandoned in Playa Cucaracha (Colombia) by supposed Colombians who were engaged in illegally moving them to Panama. The rescued migrants were taken to the Jaqué Health Center in Darién for proper medical attention.

Panama faces an increase in migrants on the Darien border, which led it to appeal to the international community at the 76th session of the United Nations Assembly, to make a joint effort as soon as possible, with coordinated strategies and resources to anticipate a regional humanitarian crisis of serious proportions.



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19,000 migrant children have crossed Darien jungle this year


Posted 11/10/2021

AFP – A record 19,000 migrant children crossed children have crossed the inhospitable and dangerous Darien jungle this year, between Colombia and Panama, en route to the United States, UNICEF warned this Monday, alarmed by that historical maximum.

"The number of migrant children who crossed the Darien Gap on foot has reached its historical maximum," despite being "one of the most dangerous places for migrants trying to reach North America," said a UNICEF report.

The flow of children registered "so far this year" is almost three times more than the number registered in the previous five years combined, "added the UN agency.

The Darien Gap, a 266-kilometer jungle area, has become a corridor for irregular migrants who, from South America, try to cross Central America and Mexico on their way to the United States.

More than 91,000 migrants have passed through that virgin forest, of 575 thousand hectares, in 2021, according to the registry updated to October of the National Migration Service of Panama, a figure equivalent to the total of the previous five years.

They are mostly Haitians and Cubans, although there are from various countries in Asia and Africa.

According to Unicef, one in five of these migrants are children, mainly from Haiti or from Haitian parents who had them during their stay in Chile or Brazil. Half of the 19,000 are under the age of five.



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UN agencies call for safe and orderly migration routes through Darien jungle


Posted 16/10/2021

Thirteen  United Nations agencies have called for strengthening "safe, regular and orderly" migration routes to reduce deaths during the journey of migrants through the Darien jungle.

The request was presented on Friday, October 15 in a joint statement over the increase of immigrants traveling to the United States.

According to a note published in the Voice of America , the statement was presented by the United Nations Children's Agency (Unicef), the International Organization for Migration, and the High Commissioner for Migration. United Nations for Refugees, among other agencies.

In the document, according to US media, the states of the region are encouraged to protect "the right to seek and receive asylum for all people on the move."

The authorities of transit countries, such as Colombia and the Central American countries, are also urged "to collaborate together to reach a pact that allows for the implementation of an" effective response to the migration crisis. "

On October 11, it was reported that at least 19,000 migrant children have crossed the Darien jungle between Colombia and Panama this year.

"The number of migrant children who crossed the Darien Gap on foot has reached its historical maximum," despite being "one of the most dangerous places for migrants trying to reach North America," said a UNICEF report.

According to Unicef, one in five migrants are children, mainly from Haiti or from Haitian parents who had them during their stay in Chile or Brazil.


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