The UN refugee agency says the number of people taking the Panamanian jungle route has tripled so far this year compared to 2021.
The number of people crossing Panama Darien Gapthe notorious and lawless route taken by migrants and refugees trying to head north to the United States, has nearly tripled compared to the same period last yearaccording to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
in a statement on Tuesday, UNHCR said 8,456 people crossed the dangerous jungle zone between Colombia and Panama in the first two months of this year, compared to 2,928 in the first two months of 2021.
This year’s total also included 1,367 children and adolescents, the agency said.
The Darien Gap, a stretch of mountainous jungle 100 miles (160 km) long and 30 miles (50 km) wide, is controlled by criminal groups known for violence, including sexual abuse and robbery. To cross, migrants must also face natural hazards.
“Many of those who cross, usually young adults and families, arrive in remote indigenous communities, hungry, dehydrated, exhausted and in need of medical attention,” the UNHCR statement read.
“Refugees and migrants of various nationalities have been crossing the Darien Gap for years,” he added. “However, 2021 set a record for the number of people who risked their lives through the dense jungle that separates South and Central America.”
The new figures come as the administration of US President Joe Biden nears a decision on whether to end the use of Title 42a border rule imposed along the Border between the United States and Mexico that allows US authorities to quickly expel asylum seekers back to Mexico or their country of origin.
rule first tax in March 2020 by then-President Donald Trump citing the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it has been used in more than 1.7 million expulsions since it was first invoked.
But amid a drop in coronavirus infections in the US and the reversal of most pandemic-era restrictions, the Biden administration has been under increased pressure to repeal Title 42. let the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decide this. week if extend the order.
In all, some 133,000 people made the journey across the Darien Gap in 2021, the UNHCR said.
The vast majority were from Haiti, including Haitian children born in Chile and Brazil, followed by Cubans, Venezuelans and from countries outside of Latin America such as Angola, Bangladesh, Ghana, Uzbekistan and Senegal. Most were on the move due to the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNHCR said.
Only in 2021, at least 51 people who entered the Darién Gap were reported missing or dead, the UN agency also said.
He added that while many of the Venezuelans who are crossing had previously been living in other host countries in South America, an increasing number are now leaving directly from Venezuela.
According to statistics from Panamanian authorities, the number of Venezuelans who crossed the Darién Gap in the first two months of 2022 -approximately 2,500 people- almost reaches the total for 2021, in which 2,819 Venezuelans crossed the jungle pass.
Meanwhile, about 7,000 migrants are apprehended crossing the US-Mexico border daily, US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said Tuesday, a sharp increase since February.