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Panamá CO: Situation Report No 2 (31 August 2022)

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Дата публикации

102,067 Number of people in transit through the Darien jungle (January to August, source: National Migration Service).

14,571 Number of children and adolescents in transit through the Darien jungle (January to August, source: National Migration Service).

Number of migrants estimated to transit between January to September de 2022:

150,000 people in transit through the Darien jungle.

20,000 children and adolescents in transit through the Darien jungle

618 Unaccompanied/separated children transiting through the Darien jungle (January to September 2022, source:


• In August 2022, some 31,055 people transited through the Darien Gap, the jungle between Colombia and Panama, representing the highest monthly figure on record. This included 4,165 children and adolescents (14%). This trend continues to be observed in September, with the arrival of up to 2,400 people per day, which could bring the total number of migrant crossings to around 45,000 by the end of the month.

• By the end of 2022, it is estimated that at least 180,000 people will have crossed the Darien, including 30,000 children.

• Since July, the routes in the jungle have changed affecting the communities of Zapallal in the Darien Province, and Tortuga and Bajo Chiquito in the Embera-Wounaan Indigenous territory. This situation generates a greater number of hotspots for humanitarian action.

• With the funding support of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and the US Government, UNICEF is increasing its presence and provision of services at different points along the migration route. UNICEF has scaled up its response to provide lifesaving services in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), child protection, maternal and child health, and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Provinces of Darien and Chiriquí (at the border with Costa Rica). UNICEF maintains protection through presence at Migrant Reception Stations.

• In addition, UNICEF is supporting 10 host communities affected by migration through the construction of safe spaces for children and access to safe drinking water.

Situation Overview

According to the national authorities, it is estimated for September that 45,000 people will transit through the dangerous Darién jungle, of which 6,300 are children and adolescents accounting for 14% of the total population. So far in 2022, people of 70 nationalities have transited, with Venezuela representing 60% of the total, followed by Haiti (6%), Ecuador (5%), Cuba (2%), Colombia, Senegal, and India (1%).

During the first half of the year, migrants mainly transited through the Carreto - El Abuelo - Canaan Membrillo - San Vicente route. However, in the later part of the year, the Acandí - Bajo Chiquito - Lajas Blancas and the Juradó - Jaqué - San Vicente routes were reactivated. Additionally, the new route arriving at the community of Zapallal is less commonly used as it costs more for migrants because it is less physically arduous and presents a lower assault risk. The change in routes is increasing the number of hotspots where access to critical humanitarian services is urgently needed.

In addition to the modifications in routes and nationalities, family demographics and places of departure have also changed, with most Venezuelan families now migrating directly from Venezuela instead of host countries like Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Recently, families from China, India, and Uzbekistan have been registered while in the past this was a migration of single adults.

The daily arrival of 2,000 migrants entering Panama through the Darien jungle is leading to overcrowding in host communities and at the Migration Reception Stations of Lajas Blancas (with a shelter capacity of 500 people) and San Vicente (with a shelter capacity of 200 people). The overcrowding, coupled with the lack of economic resources to continue their journey, causes stress and discontent among migrants leading to protests at the Migrant Reception Stations.

The difficult transit through one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world is aggravated by robbery, assault, physical violence, sexual violence, forced nudity, family separation, death by drowning, and homicide as evidenced by the recent death of a six-year-old Venezuelan boy. From January to September 22, some 618 cases of unaccompanied and separated children of 18 different nationalities have been registered. The fastest growing segment are adolescent boys travelling alone, from countries such as Venezuela and Ecuador, with the aim of reuniting with their families in North America or to provide economic support to their families back home. During 2022, humanitarian teams on the ground have identified 22 cases (all girls) of survivors of sexual violence under the age of 18.

When children arrive at the Reception Stations in Darien, they receive medical attention for mainly gastrointestinal diseases (diarrhea, vomiting) but also for fever, skin diseases, wounds, and dehydration. Many are traumatized by the crossing due to the physical dangers and violence they witnessed or suffered from.

To reduce overcrowding at the Migrant Reception Stations, the National Migration Service has increased the number of free buses transporting migrants from Darien to Chiriquí. Teams on the ground report that, in many cases, migrants prioritize continuing their route, leaving aside urgent health care or protection services, such as support for survivors of sexual violence. In Chiriquí, migrants are sheltered at the Migrant Reception Stations of Planes de Gualaca, where they stay between 2 to 4 hours and then move on to the city David (capital of the Chiriqui Province) and Paso Canoas at the border with Costa Rica.

Recently, child protection authorities have reported that migrant families with limited financial resources are resorting to informally selling goods or begging in the streets of David – which is prohibited by Panamanian law – raising concerns about the exposure of children to vulnerable situations.