Mon. Feb 17th, 2020

The rearmament of the Colombian guerrilla increases insecurity for migrants in the Darien

The return to arms of a group of dissidents from the former Colombian FARC guerrilla can turn Darién, the inhospitable jungle between Panama and Colombia, into an even "more insecure" route for the thousands of migrants who cross it every year in their Road to the United States, IOM warned this Friday.

The head of mission in Panama of the International Organization of Migration (IOM), Santiago Paz, explained that traffickers guide migrants through the jungle through the routes used by criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking and the illicit arms trade, to those that can now join the guerrillas.

"We call for a regional articulation between governments because migration cannot be observed from the attention of a single government, but from a region," said Paz, following a forum on trafficking in persons held in Panama.

The former number two of the FARC, Iván Márquez, announced at the end of last August his intention to start a new rebellion with other ex-commanders for the alleged "betrayal" of the Colombian State as agreed in the peace agreements signed in 2016 and that they put an end to the longest guerrilla of the continent.

The Darién, of 580,000 hectares, was for many years under the dominance of the extinct FARC and was the center of operations of the 57th Front, which maintained bloody clashes against Panamanian security forces.

"In the event that the armed conflict in Colombia revives, it can be a reason for the expulsion of migrants," Paz added.

During their journey through the Darien, migrants encounter a host of dangerous animals such as jaguars, poisonous snakes and scorpions and have to avoid floodwaters from rivers and steep roads.

Many are assaulted and assaulted by criminal groups that also travel through the trails and there are even reports of women who have been raped.

The forensic authorities of Panama estimate that in the last five years almost half a hundred migrants have died across the Darién, but they recognize that the figure may be higher because there are hardly any complaints, the bodies are abandoned and the land is almost inaccessible.

The IOM head of mission said that the flow of migrants grew "significantly" during the first six months of the year, compared to 2018, but that this month has been reduced somewhat by weather conditions and excessive rainfall, which they make the route even more impassable.

According to the official, there are currently about 800 migrants receiving humanitarian assistance from the Panamanian authorities and IOM itself in the shelters that exist in the country: two in the Darién and one on the border with Costa Rica.

Asked about whether it is necessary to build new shelters, Paz said that "because of the expected flow of (migrants), something else will always be missing", but insisted on highlighting "the effort that the Government of Panama has made all the time ".

According to data from the National Migration Service of Panama, between January and July of this year, more than 17,600 people crossed the Darién, including more than 2,000 children, which is almost double what was recorded in all of 2018. Most of them It came from Haiti, Cuba, India, Cameroon, Congo and Bangladesh.

. (tagsToTranslate) Colombian guerrilla (t) (t) insecurity (t) migrants (t) Darien

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