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Panama Multi-Country Office: Monthly Operational Update (June 2022)

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Regional Context

In countries covered by Panama’s Multi-Country Office (MCO), people forced to flee seeking safety, better opportunities, and family reunification continue to be at risk of detention, deportation, trafficking and gender-based violence (GBV). In Panama, despite adverse weather conditions and heavy rain affecting the region, the mixed movements of people crossing the Darien Gap show no sign of stopping. According to the National Migration Service, in June more than 1,000 people per day crossed the perilous jungle between Colombia and Panama. From January to May 2022, almost 33,000 persons, mostly Venezuelans, have been registered by the Panamanian Migration Department, an increase of 100% compared to the same period in 2021.

In support of the local authorities and in the framework of the Human Mobility Group, UNHCR and its partners continue to provide protection and assistance to people arriving at the San Vicente transit centre. The rainy season is also causing severe disruptions throughout the Caribbean region. Heavy rain that affected western and central parts of Cuba caused floods and considerable damage to houses and agriculture. In Suriname, due to the recent flooding, the government has asked for international assistance.

In Aruba and Curacao, several security measures were introduced including a curfew, schools closed, and people were allowed to leave their work early in expectation of a cyclone. The storm was less intense than anticipated with no severe damage to the islands. In Belize, the government Cabinet decided that thе Веlіzеаn NаtіоnаlіtуАсt, Сhарtеr 161, wіll bе аmеndеd bу nеw lеgіѕlаtіоn tо іmрlеmеnt the Аmnеѕtу ѕtаrtіng іn Јulу. Теnѕ оf thоuѕаndѕ оf undосumеntеd іndіvіduаlѕ mау аррlу аnd quаlіfу fоr реrmаnеnt rеѕіdеnсу іn vаrіоuѕ саtеgоrіеѕ, earning the right to apply for сіtіzеnѕhір аftеr fіvе уеаrѕ.

The human rights situation in Nicaragua remains of concern. In June, the U.N. high commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on the country’s deteriorating human rights situation. The OHCHR High Commissioner also highlighted the unprecedented numbers of people fleeing the country. The number of refugees and asylum seekers from Nicaragua has doubled, reaching 180,000 in Costa Rica alone. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Central Bank has reported inflation increases in several areas including food over the past month. In its latest monetary announcement, it said food inflation rose to 8.7 per cent from 7.9 per cent a month earlier. Higher prices were recorded in essential goods including rice, margarine, edible oils and meat. Food insecurity risks highlighted earlier this year are therefore likely to become even more severe for refugees and asylum-seekers in T&T, who do not have access to national social protection mechanisms and only limited access to livelihoods/work permits.