UNICEF predicts record levels of child migration through Darien Gap-Xinhua

UNICEF predicts record levels of child migration through Darien Gap

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-16 04:26:00

UNITED NATIONS, May 15 (Xinhua) -- An increase in the number of children migrating through the dangerous Darien Gap so far this year puts the route on track for a fifth consecutive year of record levels of child migration, said the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday.

In the first four months of 2024, more than 30,000 children on the move crossed the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama, a 40 percent increase over the same period last year, it said.

UNICEF said 2,000 of the total number of children making the jungle crossing were unaccompanied or separated from their families, tripling the number from last year. The number of children in transit is also growing five times faster than the number of adults.

Child migration through the jungle of the Darien Gap has become a protracted crisis. Based on the trends observed in the first four months of 2024 and the regional context, UNICEF estimates that 800,000 people, including 160,000 children and adolescents, could cross the jungle in 2024.

"The Darien Gap is no place for children," said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban, who recently visited the region. "Many children have died on this arduous, dangerous journey. Women have given birth while en route, bringing new life into the world in the most challenging of circumstances. Many of those who survive the journey arrive sick, hungry, and dehydrated, often with wounds or infections and in desperate need of support."

UNICEF said it has supported children on the move in the Darien Gap and Panama since 2018, delivering services such as water, sanitation and hygiene, child protection, case management, and child and maternal health at hot spots along the route. The fund also helps support 10 host communities that migrants pass through.

UNICEF appealed for 7.64 million U.S. dollars to address the urgent needs of the growing numbers of children and families on the move in Panama for 2024. Currently, only 10 percent of this new funding has been received.