Social Issues

Panama appeals for help in dealing with migrant crisis

Panama City, Aug 4 (EFE).- Panama said Friday that the international community is not doing enough to help the Central American nation cope with the increase in migrants entering from Colombia via the Darien Gap.

“I believe that we are feeling a little alone from the point of view of migration because the aid we ask for is not what we receive,” SNM migration service director Samira Gozaine told EFE.

“We are receiving aid, but it’s not what we requested, it’s not what we need,” she said.

Panama is seeking food and portable water-treatment equipment to provide both for the migrants and for residents of Panamanian communities overwhelmed by the influx of people.

“They are villages where 200 people live and suddenly they are inundated with 2,000, 3,000 people,” Gozaine said, adding that Panama has also sought help in building aqueducts to ensure the water supply in the affected area.

“We feel that they are not understanding the gravity of the crisis for a small country like Panama, with a limited budget and a pandemic that exhausted our economy just like all the countries of the region,” she said.

Gozaine also complained that Colombia “does not want to collaborate” to ease the crisis by ending or at least reducing the passage of migrants through the Darien, a treacherous expanse of dense jungle.

Panama has established migration stations along the edge of the Darien and on its northern border with Costa Rica, providing food, shelter and basic medical care to migrants with support from a dozen international organizations.

So far this year, according to Gozaine, “more than 260,000” migrants have crossed the Darien en route to North America, more than the total for all of 2022.

Besides the difficult environmental conditions, the Darien holds other dangers in the form of well-armed criminal gangs that prey on the migrants. EFE adl/dr

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