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Panama is assessing the environmental implications of migrants crossing through the Darien Forest

Panama is assessing the environmental implications of migrants crossing through the Darien Forest

Panama (AFP) – Panamanian ministers from various ministries visited Darien province on Friday to assess the environmental damage caused by thousands of migrants crossing the region’s dangerous jungle in their attempt to reach the United States, ahead of the expected announcement. measures to control this unprecedented influx of people.

Leading the charge was the Minister of Security, Juan Manuel Pino, who repeated the national claim that “some southern countries have turned their backs on the problem” and that Panama has faced the situation with responsibility and commitment. “But everything has a limit,” he said.

So far this year, more than 250,000 migrants have crossed the harsh jungle known as the Darien Gap, mostly from Venezuela, Ecuador, Haiti and Africa. Every day between 2,500 and 3,000 people enter the forest. This year also saw an increase in the number of Chinese nationals.

Panama has indicated that neighbors such as Colombia, which shares a jungle border, have done little to help control migratory transit that has outstripped the Central American country’s capabilities.

Another concern of the Panamanian authorities is the impact on the environment due to the hundreds of thousands of people passing through the jungle.

The minister did not provide details about the specific measures that Panama will take, as announced by the government a few days ago. He said it should be taken to the Cabinet and that is why the Ministers traveled to Darien.

“All possibilities are on the table because the influence we have here in Darien is so great.”

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Recently, the director of the National Immigration Service, Samira Gouzin, said he was there It’s time to set the “norms and standards” They even hinted at the possibility of closing the borders.

For his part, Environment Minister Melciades Concepción, who was included in the tour, said he was shocked by the damage to the Darien Forest, a protected area and the largest natural park in all of Central America, which extends far beyond the Colombian border.

He said the amount of waste the migrants left in their wake, as well as the eroded land, was a matter of concern. “This causes significant negative environmental impacts in the protected area; Panama has to make a decision, because we as environment minister have been greatly affected.”

He also said that pollution from the movement of people affects the water sources that indigenous communities use for consumption.

The passage of migrants across the Darien River has been going on for more than two decades, but this phenomenon has escalated dramatically in recent years, in reference to the economic decline mainly in their countries. Panama has allocated more than $60 million In recent years, it has caught the attention of all irregular entrants, according to the authorities.

Meanwhile, Social Development Minister María Ines Castillo said she was “appalled” by the fact that 60,000 children have passed through the Darien Forest so far this year.

“Just today we saw two and seven month old babies, they were lucky enough to arrive and be with their parents,” the headline confirmed. “We had to support the many children arriving without their parents because they lost them along the way,” he said.

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The security ministry said in a statement that the tour took place in the remote towns of Cañas Blanca, Pajo Chiquito and Lajas Blancas, which receive communities where migrants arrive after traveling for several days through the dense Darien forest.

He stated that the tour assessed the impact of irregular migration in communities and its impact on water sources and pollution, which causes a large amount of garbage remaining in the Darien forest.