The Darien Gap, the jungle that stifles the sobbing of migrant children

By Irene Escudero

Necoclí, Colombia, May 24 (EFE).- Two-year-old Anahi makes no sound as her mother carefully places her and her older sister in between her legs on the boat that will bring the Haitian mother and daughters from Colombia to Panama.

Anahi is one of the many children glued to their mothers’ chests at the Necoclí port in Colombia, silenced by nerves ahead of the dangerous journey that awaits them.

The boat ride that crosses the Gulf of Urabá is their last moments of tranquility before they arrive in Darien, where they will have to trek through Panama’s Darien Gap, a thick, mountainous forest at the mercy of mafias, drug traffickers and paramilitary organisations.

The boat ride is their last leg of the route from Colombia to Panama, but the family has already been travelling for days, and still has a long way to go before their final destination.

Since 2018, an increasing number of Haitian families who have already migrated to Brazil or Chile, have left their homes in South America to migrate a second time, this time to Mexico or the United States.

The route through the Darien Gap is their only option to get to the United States.

Jobi has been living in Brazil for several years. This is his second attempt at the dangerous crossing, but this time he has taken his pregnant wife, 6-year-old boy and 8-month-old baby with him.

With only a few hours left until the boat departs Necoclí port, he rushes to the market to stock up on food, water and essentials for their trek through one of the most dangerous jungles in the world. The journey could last between one to ten days, depending on how much Jobi can pay to be ‘guided’ on a safe route.

The journey is not only a dangerous one but an expensive one as well. The boat ticket alone costs 50$ per person and the ‘guide’ that will accompany families through the jungle can cost up to 65$ per family member.

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