U.N. predicts at least 60,000 minors bound for the United States are set to cross Darien Gap in 2023
The United Nations expects that by the end of 2023, children will make up one-fifth of all migrants who will hike through the perilous Darien Gap, the jungle that connects Panama with Colombia.
More than 300,000 migrants are set to transit through the jungle and over 60,000 could be minors, according to Diana Romero, the emergency specialist for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Panama.
‘Our call to the families that are going to make the decision is to review it well,’ Romero told Reuters.
The expected surge in minors traveling through the Darien Gap has been sparked by families fleeing poverty and violence for better opportunities in the United States over the last four years.
A woman stands on the shore of a river in the Darien Gap, a jungle that connects Panama with Colombia. The rainforest has become the transit point of choice for migrants seeking to reach the United States
Of the 248,000 migrants who traveled through the jungle last year, 40,438 were minors, UNICEF data showed.
The agency also noted that more than 4,800 children and adolescents trekked through the dangerous rainforest in January, a seven-fold increase compared with the same period a year ago.
At least 36 people died in the Darien Gap in 2022, according to the International Organization Migration.
The UNICEF figures were released following last Wednesday’s accident in Panamá that left at least 39 migrants dead after a bus transporting more than 60 migrants fell off a cliff.
More than 60,000 of the 300,000 migrants who will cross the Darien Gap in 2023 will be children and adolescents, according to Diana Romero, the emergency specialist for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Panama