Nearly 19,000 children crossed the dangerous Darien Gap on foot this year

Rising numbers are set to use the 18-mile stretch of jungle track to reach Colombia, epicentre of new drug smuggling routes Nearly 19,000 children crossed the dangerous Darien Gap on foot this year More…

Nearly 19,000 children crossed the dangerous Darien Gap on foot this year

Rising numbers are set to use the 18-mile stretch of jungle track to reach Colombia, epicentre of new drug smuggling routes

Nearly 19,000 children crossed the dangerous Darien Gap on foot this year

More than 19,000 children and unaccompanied migrants have crossed the treacherous Darien Gap from Central America this year alone, according to the UN refugee agency.

The UN’s children’s agency, Unicef, says the growing numbers set to use the 18-mile stretch of jungle track through Panama are a threat to the region’s native wildlife and crossings could become more frequent because of new drug smuggling routes.

The passage took a turn for the worse in April, with Unicef reporting that 1,242 children reached the beaches at Punta Colyan, five miles from the US border with Mexico, and another 741 crossed from Colombia to Colombia.

From Mexico to Colombia: the push comes from north of the border to the south Read more

“According to Cuban authorities, the most common country of origin for children crossing the Darien Gap is Ecuador,” the agency said.

The annual surge of migrants has come from desperate circumstances, a social transformation in Central America and increased reliance on familial ties from countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The vast majority of the migrants are fleeing gang violence and difficult economic conditions.

The forced migration to the US and Canada also follows a historic increase in migrant and refugee flows in the first two years of the Trump administration, which has led to a rise in detentions and has led to a backlash in both countries.

Sign up for the new US morning briefing

Carmen Zúñiga, the Unicef regional chief of the Americas, told the Associated Press this week that traffickers were opening a new pathway of possible entry into the US.

“By using the well-known, safe [Libyan] land routes there’s the possibility of using the maritime route, which often results in the deaths of migrants,” Zúñiga said.

“This is why Unicef urges all governments to do everything to stop illegal trafficking in people, especially in countries bordering the Darien Gap.”

The exodus has led to a humanitarian crisis with migrants finding themselves in dire conditions in detention centres and many have died trying to cross the sea in unseaworthy boats.

Leave a Comment