United States, Panama, and Colombia announce campaign to curb migration at Darien Gap
The three governments are aiming to decrease the flow of migrants crossing the jungle between Panama and Colombia, which has multiplied this year
April 12, 2023 8:37am
Updated: April 12, 2023 10:21am
The United States, Panama, and Colombia announced in a joint statement on Tuesday a 60-day campaign to help curb the unprecedented number of undocumented migrants attempting to cross the Darien Gap.
The three governments are aiming to decrease the flow of migrants crossing the jungle between Panama and Colombia, which has multiplied this year, reaching almost 90,000 individuals in the first three months of the year. However, their joint statement did not specify the details of the plan.
“Recognizing our shared interest and responsibility to prevent the risk to human life, disrupt transnational criminal organizations, and preserve the vital rainforest, the governments of Panamá, Colombia, and the United States intend to carry out a two-month coordinated campaign to address the serious humanitarian situation in the Darién,” the statement said.
The joint statement said the countries will also use “new lawful and flexible pathways for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees as an alternative to irregular migration.”
In addition to reducing migration, the plan also seeks to invest in Colombian and Panamanian border communities to reduce poverty and create jobs, thereby reducing the number of individuals involved in human smuggling.
Panamanian authorities claim that more than 87,000 undocumented migrants crossed the Darien Gap in the first three months of the year, up from 14,000 in the same period a year earlier. The migrants are mostly coming from Venezuela, Haiti, and Ecuador.
Last year set a record for the number of migrants using the Darien Gap in order to reach the U.S., with nearly 250,000 encounters driven largely by Venezuelan migrants.
The announcement comes as the Biden administration expects an increase in migrants after the pandemic-era immigration rule Title 42 ends on May 11. Title 42 allowed border officials to turn away migrants and asylum seekers at the border under the premise of containing the coronavirus pandemic.