In their journey to the United States, 19,000 migrant children have crossed dangerous jungles.
According to a new UNICEF report released Monday, 19,000 migrant children have traversed the Darien Gap, a treacherous jungle straddling the Panama-Colombia border, in search of a better life this year. Despite the fact that the majority of the migrants have come from Haiti, the route is being used by people from 50 different countries to get to the United States.
Children account for one out of every five migrants crossing the Panama-Colombia border. According to the agency, half of them are under the age of five. The overall number of children who have already been through the forest this year is three times higher than the previous year’s total.
“Each child who walks across the Darien Gap is a survivor. Robbery, rape, and human trafficking are as deadly as wild animals, insects, and a complete lack of adequate drinking water deep in the jungle “In a statement, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Jean Gough said. “On this treacherous voyage, more children die, lose their parents, or become separated from their relatives week after week. It’s shocking that criminal gangs prey on little children while they’re at their most vulnerable.” More than 150 children, some of them were infants, came in Panama without their parents, according to the agency. According to the agency, the number of unaccompanied youngsters has increased roughly 20 times since last year. At least five children were discovered dead in the bush in 2021.
“In the Darien jungle, criminal groups are increasingly and purposely using sexual violence as a weapon of terror,” the agency claimed. UNICEF has received 29 instances of adolescent girls being sexually abused on the voyage since the beginning of 2021. There has been an increase in the number of women who have been sexually abused.
The number of children and migrants crossing the Darien Gap is projected to rise in the coming weeks, according to the agency.
In Panama, UNICEF and its partners have established a program to give psychological and health care to arriving children. Local protection services are entrusted with children who have been subjected to violence.
Before they embark on the perilous journey through the border forest, UNICEF provides drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene services to migrants in Colombia.
As of September, 91,305 Colombian migrants had crossed the border into Panama. There were 56,676 migrants from Haiti and 12,870 from the Dominican Republic among them. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.