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55,589 Venezuelans crossed the Darien jungle since January 2023 | via: Alnavio

EFE | Venezuela | May 3rd, 2023 | Photo: Bienvenido Velasco / EFE

Unofficial translation made by HumVenezuela…

In the first four months of this year more than 127,000 irregular migrants traveling to the United States arrived in Panama after crossing the Darien jungle, the dangerous border with Colombia, six times more than in the same period in 2022, according to official figures accessed by EFE.

Panama takes the biometric data of these travelers and offers them health care and food at stations located both in the province of Darien and in the province of Chiriqui, bordering Costa Rica, where more than a dozen international organizations are present, according to official information.

Thus, between January 1 and April 30, a total of 127,687 people in mobility arrived in the province of Darien, being the Venezuelan nationality the most numerous with 55,589, followed by Haiti (28,610), Ecuador (16,992), Colombia (3,836) and India (2,791), according to statistics of the National Migration Service (SNM) of Panama.

The figure for the first four months of 2023 is six times the 19,925 recorded in the same period of 2022, when the year closed with a total of 248,284 people in mobility who crossed the jungle on their journey to North America, an unprecedented figure that left behind the historical figure of 2021 (133,726).

April was the month with the most arrivals so far this year with 40,297, well above the 24,634 and 24,657 in January and February, respectively, and the 38,099 in March.

Of the 1,427 people who arrived at the Darien migration stations on April 30, 304 or 21% were minors.

“If migration continues as it is now, we are going to have a number that doubles the previous one,” of more than 248,000 migrants crossing the Darien by 2022, said Panama’s Foreign Minister, Janaina Tewaney Mencomo, on April 24, when she asked the countries of the region for “concrete actions” to tackle the crisis.

On April 27, the United States announced a series of measures intended to reduce the flow of migrants to its border with Mexico as of May 11, when Title 42, an immigration regulation that allows hot deportations, will be suspended.

From that date, more restrictive measures will come into effect at the southern border: people who are arrested crossing irregularly may be subject to a 5-year ban on entering the U.S. and seeking asylum, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The UN High Commisioner for the Refugees (UNHCR) launched on Monday on social networks Facebook and TikTok the project “Confía en El Tucán” (Trust El Tucan, in English), which aims to combat false information about the Darien jungle and its use as an irregular migratory route.

“At least 38% of the people arriving in Darien are informed through Facebook and almost 10% through TikTok,” said the UNHCR Office for Belize, Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua and the Southern Caribbean, located in the Panamanian capital.

It is uncertain how many people die in the Darien, where travelers face the wild environment and criminal groups that commit assaults and rapes as well. Figures from the IOM’s Missing Migrants Project speak of 221 since 2014, 14 of them this year, but the underreporting is huge, as the international agency itself admits.