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UN and Ombudsman’s Office address irregular migration in Panama

Panama City, Jun 7 (Prensa Latina) The rise in irregular migration on its way through Panama to the United States was the focus of a meeting on Friday between the Ombudsman's Office and the United Nations representation in the nation.

The Ombudsman Eduardo Leblanc, who recently filed rape complaints in some 400 cases of rape in the Darien Gap, bordering Colombia, stressed the need for public policies to improve the accessibility of infrastructure for people with disabilities and populations vulnerable to climate change.

At the encounter, with the presence of the UN Resident Coordinator in Panama Ana Graça, they recalled that in April the Human Rights Watch organization pointed out in a report that Panama and Colombia were not doing enough to protect migrants in the area.

Those accusations were immediately rejected by the Director of the National Migration Service (SNM) Samira Gozaine, who detailed the various services that travelers receive in terms of health, accommodation and food, as well as the millions spent by the State for this humanitarian goal.

According to official statistics, some 170,000 people had crossed over the dangerous jungle up to May 7, whereas 166,649 crossings were recorded during the same period in 2023.

Most of these irregular migrants are Venezuelans, followed by Ecuadorians, Haitians, Colombians and Chinese, in that order, according to the SNM.

Last year, 520,85,000 illegal travelers passed through the known Darien Gap, where they are exposed to natural dangers, but also to gangs and criminals on human trafficking.

In front of this situation, Panama’s President-elect Jose Raul Mulino, and the appointed Minister of Security Frank Abrego have announced that when they take office on July 1, they will proceed to the closure of the vast border area and deport the thousands of irregular migrants to their countries of origin.