Child Migration Through Darien to Reach Record Levels: UNICEF

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Child Migration Through Darien to Reach Record Levels: UNICEF

On Wednesday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that an increase in the number of children migrating through the dangerous Darien Gap so far this year puts the route on track for a fifth consecutive year of record levels of child migration.

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In the first four months of 2024, over 30,000 children on the move crossed the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama, a 40 percent increase over the same period last year.

UNICEF said 2,000 of the children making the jungle crossing were unaccompanied or separated from their families, tripling the number from last year. The number of children in transit is also growing five times faster than the number of adults.

Child migration through the jungle of the Darien Gap has become a protracted crisis. Based on the trends observed in the first four months of 2024 and the regional context, UNICEF estimates that 800,000 people, including 160,000 children and adolescents, could cross the jungle in 2024.

Record numbers of migrants are expected to cross the dangerous route through the Darien Jungle between Colombia and Panama, according to the UN. 400,000 migrants are expected to fight through the Darien Jungle on foot in 2023, a nearly 100-kilometer route marked by a hostile… pic.twitter.com/U2dwlxLY1O

— red. (@redstreamnet)
July 8, 2023

«The Darien Gap is no place for children. Many children have died on this arduous, dangerous journey. Women have given birth while en route, bringing new life into the world in the most challenging of circumstances,» said UNICEF Deputy Director Ted Chaiban.

«Many of those who survive the journey arrive sick, hungry, and dehydrated, often with wounds or infections and in desperate need of support,» he added.

UNICEF said it has supported children on the move in the Darien Gap and Panama since 2018, delivering services such as water, sanitation and hygiene, child protection, case management, and child and maternal health at hot spots along the route. The fund also helps support 10 host communities that migrants pass through.

UNICEF appealed for US$7.6 million to address the urgent needs of the growing numbers of children and families on the move in Panama for 2024. Currently, only 10 percent of this new funding has been received.

#darienjungle The perils of the Darien Jungle and what it means to migrants pic.twitter.com/pDM9fERWp6

— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish)
October 21, 2021

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