Panama City, Apr 20 (EFE).- Representatives of a score of Western Hemisphere countries agreed here Wednesday to create a working group on migration.
“Precisely because it affects all of us, this is a challenge that we have to solve together, and that was at the heart of our discussions today,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the conclusion of the ministerial meeting in Panama city.
He said that battling corruption, dealing with the effects of climate change, and improving democracy were all ways of easing the pressures that drive people in Central and South America to set out for the United States.
“Our work together is going to continue at the Summit of the Americas in June, where we hope that leaders from across the region will be able to lay out shared principles for a shared response to regional migration and forced displacement,” Washington’s top diplomat said.
Blinken cited the bilateral cooperation agreement signed Tuesday by the US and Panama – which followed a similar pact with Costa Rica – as a template for multilateral efforts.
The goals of the initiative include “helping stabilize and strengthen communities that are hosting migrants and refugees” and “creating more legal pathways to reinforce safe, orderly, and humane migration,” he said.
“I want to thank the Government of Panama for being a leader, a partner on this issue, and for bringing all of us together for two days of what were productive talks, productive planning, and action,” Blinken said.
Panama has seen a marked increase in the flow of undocumented migrants from neighboring Colombia through the dangerous Darien jungle.
Last year saw a record 133,000 people from 35 different countries enter Panama via Darien and the ranks of those migrants grew by 13,245 in the first quarter of this year, more than double the total of the same period in 2021, according to the Panamanian government.
Migration is a now “a global phenomenon,” US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in an interview with Efe.
Panama’s foreign minister, Erika Mouynes, described the gathering of 31 delegations from governments and international organizations as unprecedented and a “vital achievement” in its own right.
“Addressing the phenomenon of irregular migration is a priority for our agendas and we have committed to doing so in a joint manner. That is the great triumph of this meeting,” she said. EFE