It is one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world.
In just seven months this year, almost a quarter of a million migrants have crossed the dangerous Darién jungle in Latin America – more than in the previous record year 2022.
In the meantime, 248,901 migrants have been counted who passed through the forest on the border between South and Central America northwards, said the deputy head of Panama’s migration authority, María Isabel Saravia. About 21 percent of them are children and young people, the majority of them no older than five years. In 2022, 248,284 migrants were counted throughout the year.
The so-called Tapón del Darién is a gap in the Pan-American highway system. The approximately 100-kilometer hike begins in South American Colombia and leads to Central American Panama. The march can last up to ten days. The jungle is one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world – not only because of the impassable, partly mountainous, partly swampy terrain, but also because of the gangs active there. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 36 people died there last year, but most of the deaths were probably not recorded.
This is the third year in a row that there has been a dramatic increase in crossings by migrants, whose destination is typically the United States, some 4,000 kilometers to the north. Last year there were almost twice as many as in 2021, until then the record year. Venezuelans make up the largest proportion of migrants; in addition, many come from Ecuador and other South American countries, from Caribbean countries such as Haiti, as well as from Africa and other continents.