Panama City, May 31 (EFE).- A total of 166,122 irregular migrants crossed the dangerous Darien jungle, the natural border between Panama and Colombia, so far this year, almost five times more than in 2022, according to official figures.
The report from Panama’s security ministry, to which EFE had access, said at least 38,435 people crossed the jungle in May as of Wednesday morning, on their way to North America, a figure slightly less than April’s 40,297.
In the first five months of this year, 166,122 migrants crossed the Darien on foot, almost five times more than the 33,819 from January to May 2022, according to official figures from Panamanian authorities.
Venezuelans continue to be the predominant nationality, with 81,618 as of May 30 of this year, followed by 31,615 Haitians and 20,029 Ecuadorians. By continent, there have been 147,044 migrants from American countries, 14,739 Asians, 4,293 Africans and 46 Europeans.
The statistics of the Panamanian government show there was a decrease in the last 15 days of this month. Authorities said this drop could be attributed to the arrival of the rainy season, which runs from May to November approximately and makes it difficult to pass through the jungle, with the swelling of the rivers.
The United States also changed its immigration policy this month in an attempt to stem the growing flow of people seeking asylum there, which could discourage migrants from making the dangerous journey north.
America is experiencing an unprecedented migratory crisis with the massive flow of migrants to the north of the continent in search of better living conditions. There are currently some 20 million people displaced in the region, according to data cited by NGO HIAS in an interview with EFE last week.
This year, 400,000 are expected to cross the Darien, which would almost double the data for 2022, which closed with a record number of more than 248,000 people in transit.
United Nations agency UNICEF said this week that the number of migrating minors who crossed the Darien jungle between January and April multiplied by eight, compared to the same period in 2022, reaching a “record of more than 25,000.”
The Darien Gap, one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world, is used daily by these irregular migrants, many of them mobilized by human trafficking networks, who want to reach the United States or Canada.
This area is very dangerous, not only due to the climatic conditions typical of the jungle, but also due to the presence of armed groups, and passers-by denounce rapes and robberies during the journey.EFE