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Many individuals are putting their lives at risk to cross the treacherous Darien Gap.
Americas World News

Many individuals are putting their lives at risk to cross the treacherous Darien Gap.

According to OHCHR, the number of individuals who have traversed the Darien Gap in 2020 in order to reach North America has exceeded 330,000, the highest figure ever documented. Out of every five people, one was a child.

Possibility of experiencing sexual assault

During the journey, individuals migrating or seeking refuge are subjected to various violations and mistreatment of their human rights. This includes the specific threat of sexual violence for children, women, LGBTI individuals, and people with disabilities, as stated by spokesperson for the OHCHR, Marta Hurtado.

She mentioned that there were additional incidents of homicide, abductions, illegal trade, theft, and threats from organized criminal organizations.

10-day journey

Ms. Hurtado mentioned that trekking on foot through the 575,000-hectare rainforest was already dangerous, and a journey of four to seven days during the dry season could potentially extend to ten days during the nine-month-long rainy season.

The challenging journey requires scaling steep peaks and traversing perilous bodies of water.

Increased vulnerabilities

The OHCHR noted that inadequate focus on humanitarian concerns in Panama and Costa Rica contributed to the worsening living conditions and heightened vulnerabilities in both nations.

The United Nations recently reported statistics from the Panamanian government which revealed that the majority of individuals crossing through the jungle were from Venezuela (55%), Haiti (14%), and Ecuador (14%).

Individuals from Colombia and Peru are making their way to Chile and Brazil, while also noting that children of Haitian descent born in these countries have been accounted for.

Some individuals travel from distant places such as China, Afghanistan, and Nepal.

Stretched capacity

According to OHCHR, the Government of Panama has constructed three facilities for migrants with the assistance of the global community. These centers offer refuge, nourishment, medical assistance, and access to clean water and sanitation. Two are situated in the Darien region and one is located at the border near Costa Rica.

Despite efforts, resources are still limited. The OHCHR cautioned that as the influx of refugees and migrants continues to increase, it is becoming more difficult for authorities to provide necessary protection and aid.

Avoid anti-migrant narratives

Ms. Hurtado acknowledged the efforts of Costa Rica and Panama in addressing humanitarian needs, according to her office.

The OHCHR urged the global community to enhance its aid to countries in the Americas in order to fill in protection deficiencies and assist in addressing the underlying causes that push individuals to flee their homes.

In August, the UN migration agency (IOM) and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) called for a united and thorough approach to addressing the humanitarian and protection needs of individuals migrating throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

OHCHR cautioned against using discriminatory or anti-migrant messages that target vulnerable individuals in the pursuit of human rights-based solutions to migration governance challenges.

The source of this information is from the United Nations News website.