Colombia is a well-known transit point for irregular migrants from all over the world seeking to travel north through Mesoamerica into the United States. The ebb and flow creates a security and humanitarian challenge both for Colombia, and neighboring Panamá. Crossing north into Panamá via ocean or through the Darien Gap, a forested wilderness infested by natural hazards, dangerous animals, and dangerous criminals, often leads to death, crimes, and certain headaches for officials in both countries.
Due to a surge in migrants, Panamanian officials met with their Colombian counterparts on August 11 to reach an agreement in which Colombia would allow no more than 650 migrants to cross per day, diminishing to 500 per day in September. But according to Panamá’s Director of Migration Samira Gozaine, Colombia is not complying with the bargain.
Dir de Migración, Samira Gozaine, confirma que Colombia no está cumpliendo con acuerdo migratorio. Asegura que hay cerca de 6 mil 500 migrantes más que los que debería haber. @tvnnoticias pic.twitter.com/j3aWtAC9ku
— Fabio Caballero (@FabioCaballero8) September 6, 2021
“Right now we have 6,500 more people than we should have if the agreement with Colombia was being fulfilled,” said Gozaine, who will be meeting with Colombian officials again on Friday to voice her discontent. “At that meeting we are going to notify our counterparts and the Foreign Ministry that these agreements are not being fulfilled, and we will ascertain with them the situation so that they comply with what they committed to Panamá.”
Directora del SNM @Gozainesamira y el defensor del pueblo, @eleblancg realizan gira a la comunidad de Bajo Chiquito, Darién.Habitantes del lugar expusieron sus inquietudes en torno a la situación de los migrantes en el área, mientras que los extranjeros también fueron escuchados. pic.twitter.com/41uuoyDlRR
— Migración Panamá (@migracionpanama) September 6, 2021
Gozaine said that up to 900 migrants were arriving per day, many unaware of the perils they faced in the lawless Darien wilderness, often victims of human traffickers. Many migrants come from Haiti and Cuba, though Asia and Africa are also well represented in the statistics. In both Panamá and Necoclí, Colombia, locals have expressed their concern at their small towns being overwhelmed by migrants, often poor and in a state of distress.
La #VicepresidenteYCanciller, @mluciaramirez, aterriza #AEstaHora en el aeropuerto de Nicanor, en la frontera colombo panameña, para reunirse con su homóloga, Erika Mouynes, en busca de soluciones a la crisis de migrantes en Necoclí y el Urabá Antioqueño pic.twitter.com/Ldiun19QD8
— Cancillería Colombia (@CancilleriaCol) August 6, 2021
Image courtesy Migración Panamá