Church wants migrants to be aware of dangers of route through Panama’s Darien jungle

migrants darien jungle Migrants waiting to cross the Gulf of Urabá to start the route through the Darién jungle. | Credit: EWTN News (video capture)

Passing through the Darién jungle in Panama as the first stage of the route to reach the United States 3,000 miles to the north continues to be chosen by thousands of migrants, and the Church wants them to be aware of the dangers involved.

Red Clamor, which carries out pastoral work in Latin America in support of migrants and refugees, is trying to raise awareness with its recent campaign, “The Darién is not the way, it’s a dead end.”

The Darien jungle is shared by Panama and Colombia and is also considered a dead end — literally called a “plug” — because the Pan-American Highway is interrupted by a 66-mile stretch of marshland and mountains called the Darien Gap.

However, despite its dangers, it has once again become the path that thousands of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, have been taking in recent weeks to reach North America.

To make the passage, migrants must first go though the northern part of Colombia, cross the Gulf of Urabá by boat from the Colombian town of Necoclí to Capurganá in Panama, and from there walk through the jungle for a week or more.

In the case of Venezuelans, crossing the jungle and Central America doesn’t guarantee them entry into the United States, since the Biden administration established last week that it will only accept migrants from Venezuela who arrive by air and have someone to sponsor them.

“The Darién jungle has become a more than dangerous route, a deadly way that doesn’t seem to stop the thousands of migrants, mostly Venezuelans, who have decided to travel its paths looking for new opportunities for a better life,” Red Clamor said on Facebook.

The migrant assistance network recognized “the dreams and desires that are in the hearts of each of the men and women who in most cases make this decision for their sons and daughters.”

“However, we call for reflection, evaluation, and awareness before embarking on this journey that has been deadly for so many: ‘The Darién is not the road, it is a dead end’ that takes the lives and dreams of those who, out of desperation, cast their lot with crossing it,” Red Clamor said.

According to the Colombian People’s Ombudsman, “this year the migration crisis is much more serious than last year. The number of people on the move that have headed to Panama exceeds 150,000 compared [with] the 134,000 migrants in 2021.” 

“The trend continues to increase,” he said.

Stories reported in the press tell of the dangers to which adults and children are exposed, which includes human trafficking of migrants.

“We are called to build the future together with migrants, refugees, displaced persons, and victims of human trafficking. In order to reach that future, life must first be preserved,” Red Clamor said.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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