Panama and Costa Rica have announced a plan to quickly move thousands of migrants through Panama to the border with Costa Rica, as the countries continue to face a steady increase in the number of migrants moving through the jungle-clad Darien Gap.
Panama estimates that 420,700 migrants have crossed the divide from Colombia to Panama so far this year, making it likely that the full-year number will exceed half a million.
DARIEN JUNGLE, A TRADITIONAL MIGRANT ROUTE, BECOME MORE ACCESSIBLE AS PANAMA SEES INCREASE IN ARRIVALS
Industrial-scale smuggling operations in Colombia have now reduced the dangerous crossing to just over two days for the strongest walkers. Express bus service in Panama will likely further reduce the time it takes migrants to reach the US border, now to about two and a half weeks.
Panama hopes the new plan will disrupt the smuggling networks that charge migrants to cross the country, as well as reduce overcrowding in Panamanian reception camps where migrants live once they exit the Darien Gap Trail.
PANAMA TO INCREASE DEPORTATIONS Amid RECORD IMMIGRATION THROUGH TREASURER DARIEN GAP
Panama’s National Migration Agency said 30 buses transported a group of nearly 1,600 migrants on Tuesday from Panama to a Costa Rican migrant center in Correntores, just inside Costa Rica.
In April, the US, Panama and Colombia announced a campaign to slow immigration into the Darien jungle, but the number of migrants has increased, forcing the Biden administration to look for other options.
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The majority of immigrants are from Venezuela, while others are from Ecuador, Colombia and Haiti.