Nearly 250,000 Migrants Crossed Treacherous Darien in 2022

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PANAMA CITY (AP) — Nearly 250,000 migrants crossed the treacherous Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama in 2022 on their way north, a figure that was nearly double the number from a year earlier, the International Organization for Migration said Tuesday.

At least 36 migrants died during the journey, but the United Nations’ migration agency said the real number is likely higher because some of those who perish in the deep jungle are never recovered.

In 2021, at least 133,000 migrants — mostly Haitian — crossed the Darien, according to Panama’s data. Last year, Venezuelans dominated the flow with more than 150,000 crossings. Panamanian authorities say they still don’t have data for crossings during the first two weeks of January.

“The stories we have heard from those who have crossed the Darien Gap attest to the horrors of this journey,” said Giuseppe Loprete, chief of mission at the IOM in Panama. “Many have lost their lives or gone missing, while others come out of it with significant health issues, both physical and mental, to which we and our partners are responding.”

The unprecedented numbers come as the United States government tries to make the journey less appealing. In October, President Joe Biden’s administration agreed to accept up to 24,000 Venezuelan migrants at U.S. airports if they pre-registered through a government website but said others who cross the border illegally will be returned to Mexico.

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