A father and his son walk through the jungle on their way to Panama through the Darién Gap, Colombia, on October 8, 2022. EFE FILE/ Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda

Migration through Darién Gap quadruples in the first half of 2023

Panama City, Jul 31 (EFE).- The Darién Gap, the wild natural border between Panama and Colombia and one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes, was crossed by 196,370 irregular migrants in the first half of this year, an unprecedented number and almost four times the 49,452 in the same period last year, according to official Panamanian data seen by EFE on Saturday.

Venezuelan migrants climb down a mountain on their way to Panama, in the Darién Gap, Colombia, on October 8, 2022. EFE FILE/Mauricio Duenas Castañeda

April was the month with the highest number of travelers entering Panama through the jungle on their journey to North America, with 40,297 – 6.5 times more than the 6,134 in the same month of 2022.

Venezuelan migrants on their way to Panama in the Darién Gap, Colombia, on October 8, 2022. EFE FILE/Mauricio Duenas Castañeda

That was followed in descending order by May with 38,962, March with 38,009, June with 29,721, January with 24,634, and February with 24,657 migrants.

Migrants descend a muddy mountain in the Darién Gap, Colombia, on Oct. 8, 2022. EFE FILE/Mauricio Duenas Castañeda

Of those who traveled through the jungle between January and June, 51 percent (100,514) were Venezuelans, followed by Haitians (33,074), Ecuadorians (25,105), citizens of 23 African countries (6,420), Chileans (4,964) and Colombians (3,579).

On May 11, new immigration restrictions were also activated in the United States, ending what was known as Title 42, replaced by Title 8, the norm that has historically governed migration in this country, to which other measures were added that restrict access to seeking asylum on its southern border with Mexico.

Panama receives migrants heading to North America at immigration stations near its southern border with Colombia and on the northern border with Costa Rica, where it offers them healthcare and food, in a unique operation on the continent that involves a dozen international organizations.

At the end of June there were 4,767 migrants spread across these border facilities, according to official data.

The lawless Darién Gap consists of mountainous jungles in Panama and a river delta on the Colombia side.

Many of the accounts of migrants waking through this treacherous and inhospitable region include deaths, rapes, assaults and suicides. Travelers face the dangers of the wild environment and criminal groups.

Entire families are crossing the jungle. Unicef warned that between January and April last year, more than 25,000 minors did so, eight times more than in the same period of 2022, a record number.

The unprecedented migration flow in the American continent is due to thousands of people fleeing economic and political crises, violence or the effects of climate change. EFE