According to the organization’s report, some 383 infants completed the journey unaccompanied or separated from their families until last July, which represents a 47 percent increase.
The UNICEF emergency officer in Panama, Diana Romero, explained to the newspaper La Estrella de Panamá that sometimes parents are injured or incapacitated by weather conditions or rising rivers, and are forced to delegate the care of minors to other adults.
Another number stands out in the statistics: that of children without given names. The phenomenon has been called ‘statelessness’, which is a person who does not have a nationality, who does not have the recognition and protection of the laws of any State, the expert said. Sometimes they are children whose parents have not been able to recognize them in their countries of origin. Others may be minors born during the voyage.
The statistics also show the number of child survivors of sexual violence experienced during the migratory route, in the province of Darién, some 38 in 2021 and 20 so far this year.
Migrant children run the risk of suffering from hunger and cold, suffering from diseases, not having access to health services, being exploited by organized crime and being detained, in addition to other types of violence and discrimination by the population of the places they pass through.
The reports show the transit of 10,436 migrant minors in a period of seven months. 40 percent of the children who cross the Darién Gap are under five years old. 70 nationalities have been reported so far, according to UNICEF.