February 27, 2021

Two thousand migrants remain in border shelters in Panama

The authorities of Panama reported Friday that 2,000 migrants who arrived in the country in their transit to the north of the American continent remain in two shelters located on the borders with Colombia and Costa Rica.

"In the country there are 2,000 immigrants in shelters distributed as follows: in Chiriquí 800 and 1,200 in Darién, so that they can continue with their migratory flow," said the director of the National Migration Service, Samira Gozaine, according to an official statement.

The jungle province of Darién is bordering with Colombia and migrant flows from the south of the continent enter, while the province of Chiriquí borders Costa Rica.

The statement of the Ministry of Public Security released on Friday does not account for the nationality or place of origin of the 2,000 migrants, but officials of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told Efe last May that it is mostly people from Cuba, Haiti, Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

"Most of them were already in some South American countries, such as Brazil, Argentina or Venezuela, but the current economic situation of those countries has pushed them to travel to North America," the IOM Program Officer in Panama told Efe in the past Gonzalo Medina

Medina added that this year IOM had identified among the migrants a greater number of families accompanied by children, which "is a very particular characteristic of this flow."

Between January and May, more than 11,103 migrants had entered Panama, including 258 girls and 202 boys, according to data from the National Border Service (Senafron) provided to Efe during a visit to the indigenous village of Peñita, in Darien, the second point to which migrants who enter through the border with Colombia arrive.

At the end of last May, only 3,076 Haitian, Cuban and other migrants from Africa and Asia were found in Darien, according to official figures, who were submitted to the "controlled flow" program, which includes a biometric process to determine if any of these people generate a migratory alert.

The program also includes a humanitarian and other health axis applicable to migrants before being transferred to the border with Costa Rica to continue north.

The figure on the number of migrants staying in shelters in Panama was specified on Friday in an official statement informing of a meeting between Panamanian Security authorities, US embassy officials and officers with the rank of general of the armed forces of That country.

"They met to exchange information and improve the mission in the fight against organized crime in this country and the region," said the statement from the Ministry of Public Security of Panama.

It was an "opportunity to exchange information and knowledge about the realities, situations and capacities of Panama, in order to improve strategies," said Deputy Minister of Public Security, Ivor Pittí, according to the official letter.

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