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News > Latin America

Countries Need to Work Together To Protect Migrants: OIM

  • Officials bury 15 unknown migrants, Panama, Sept. 30, 2021

    Officials bury 15 unknown migrants, Panama, Sept. 30, 2021 | Photo: Twitter/ @AbdulsatarBoch1

Published 9 November 2021

Migratory flows through the Darien Gap, an area full of large watershed and forests, have not been without fatalities. Panamanian authorities have found 50 bodies so far this year.

On Monday, Amy Pope, the deputy director for Management and Reform at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), addressed the dire situation migrants face in the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama.


UN: Child Migration Grows via Darien Jungle to the US

During a visit to shelters in Panama, she expressed concern over the governments' response to the hike in migrants and called all countries involved to o try new ways to protect the people who transit through their territories.

"In situations with such large volumes of migrants, it is necessary to identify and prioritize the people most in need of protection in order to provide them with assistance in basic elements, such as food, shelter, and water. Governments must facilitate the supportive work through local authorities", the IOM official said.

Her multilateral institution has proposed that countries establish conventional and secure routes for migrants to cross the borders. It is clear that simple enforcement measures to prevent travel between borders are not working, for refugees take riskier routes away from the public surveillance.

Ugochi Daniels, who was appointed as IOM’s Deputy Director of Operations in Sep. 2021, praised the fact that Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic signed an alliance to establish dialogue and cooperation on development and democracy issues. She also advocated for solutions to the situation in Haiti, which has affected the migratory crisis in the region.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), over 91,000 people have crossed the Darien Gap so far this year, an amount that is five times greater than the amount accumulated since 2015. This unusual flow of migrants through an area full of large watershed and forests, however, has not been without fatalities. Officials have found over 50 dead bodies in the Darien jungle.

In crossing the Darien Gap, undocumented migrants face harsh conditions such as lack of food and drinking water, diseases, and wildlife attacks. The actions of human traffickers are also of their concern, as these criminals often resort to extortion, violence, and sexual abuse.

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