The Darién Gap, a treacherous area of jungle that separates Panama from Colombia, is being traversed by record numbers of migrants.
According to officials in Panama, more people have made the journey so far this year than in the entire year 2022.
Despite international efforts to stop the flow, about a quarter of a million people crossed the wilderness on foot in the first seven months of 2023.
Most of them are immigrants from Haiti, Venezuela, and Ecuador who are seeking to get to the US.
Data gathered by Panamanian authorities revealed that youngsters made up 5% of the trekkers.
The situation has been referred to as a “major humanitarian crisis” by Marisela Silva Chau of the ICRC’s regional office.
An area of dense rainforest known as the Darién Gap serves as a natural border between South and Central America. It can take a week to get by foot and there are no highways.
In addition to the threat of criminal groups that may rob and demand money from migrants, hot, muggy weather and wild animals provide additional risks.
The Red Cross has established locations where refugees can receive water and first assistance. Many of the survivors, according to the report, arrive “in a devastating and inhumane condition.”
They have strong allergic reactions, are injured, dehydrated, and may have difficulties from chronic conditions or pregnancy. Verónica Martnez, who oversees the group’s humanitarian effort in Darién, stated that many people have been the victims of abuse and violence.
According to the International Organisation of Migration, at least 36 persons are known to have lost their lives trying to cross last year.
It claims that the actual number is probably far higher because many victims’ remains are never found.
To stop migration through the Darién, the governments of the United States, Colombia, and Panama began a two-month effort in April.
They declared they will employ “new lawful and flexible pathways for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees as an alternative to irregular migration”.
Officials provided little specifics on those approaches, though.
According to data made public by the Panamanian government on Monday, 52,530 migrants travelled through the Darién in July, an increase over the previous month.
The Central American nation’s officials claimed this was especially concerning because in past years they had noticed a decline in population during the rainy season. In this region, which is traversed by rivers and streams, drownings are one of the leading causes of death.