Panama and Colombia fail to protect migrants on Darien jungle route, Human Rights Watch says

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Human Rights Watch says Colombia and Panama are failing to protect the hundreds of thousands of migrants who cross the Darien jungle on their way to the United States and have become increasingly exposed to robberies and sexual violence.

FILE - Haitian migrants wade through water as they cross the Darien Gap from Colombia to Panama in hopes of reaching the United States, May 9, 2023. Colombia and Panama are failing to protect hundreds of thousands of migrants who are crossing the Darien jungle on their way to the U.S. and have become increasingly vulnerable to robberies and sexual violence, Human Rights Watch said in a report published Wednesday, April 3, 2024. on their way to the U.S.

“Restricting MSF’s work is exactly the opposite of what is needed to address the situation in the Darien Gap,” Goebertus said. The trek across the rainforest can last anywhere from three to five days, with migrants paying hundreds of dollars to guides and smugglers to lead them along muddy trails and treacherous river crossings. Dozens of people have drowned.

“Crimes against migrants and asylum seekers in the Darien Gap, including pervasive cases of sexual violence, go largely uninvestigated and unpunished on both sides of the border” the report said. “Accountability for these abuses is rare, due to a combination of limited resources and personnel ... and poor coordination between Colombian and Panamanian authorities.”

 

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