Panama accuses Colombia of not wanting to 'collaborate' in closing transit of migrants through Darien Gap

Panama accuses Colombia of not wanting to 'collaborate' in closing transit of migrants through Darien Gap

Panama decries being 'alone' in facing increasing flow of undocumented migrants through dangerous Darien jungle

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Colombia does not want to help stop the flow of migrants through Panama to North America, the director of Panama's National Migration Service said Friday.

Bogota "does not want to collaborate with closing transit, with minimizing transit,” Samira Gozaine said during a press conference.

She said that following a US announcement that several governments, including Colombia's, will cooperate to manage and reduce the flow of undocumented migrants to North America, Colombia is letting "more people" pass.

The Darien Gap is a transit point for migrants who are escaping poverty and widespread violence and are expecting to find better opportunities in North America but who frequently find death in the mountains, swamps, rivers and precipitous ravines of the lawless jungle.

Panama receives travelers at migration stations located near its southern border with Colombia and the northern border with Costa Rica, where they are offered healthcare and food.

According to Gozaine, more than 260,000 migrants have crossed the Darien jungle to North America so far this year, while around 250,000 people crossed the Darien in 2022. UNICEF figures show that about 133,000 crossed in 2021.

In the last few days, between 2,600 and 2,800 people have crossed daily through the jungle, she said.

"I think we are feeling a little bit alone from a migration point of view because the help we are asking for is not what we are receiving. We are receiving help, but it is not what we have asked for, it is not what we need," Gozaine said.

The UN reported that at least 60,000 minors bound for the US are set to cross in 2023. ​​​​​​​

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