Panama asks Colombia for a controlled flow agreement for the transit of migrants

Erika Mouynes, Chancellor of Panama
Photo: @ErikaMouynes
By Elida Moreno

Panama asked Colombia for an agreement to deal with in a controlled manner the transit of undocumented migrants who enter the country through the dangerous Darien jungle, border between both nations, that would prevent a migration crisis after increasing income in the midst of the pandemic.

The request was presented by the Panamanian Foreign Minister, Erika Mouynes during a virtual meeting in which high-level official delegates from the two countries participated.

“Panama officially proposed an agreement for the controlled flow of migrants that allows the country to ensure the attention that these passersby require., that the vast majority intend to reach the United States, ”Mouynes said in a statement..

The Panamanian Foreign Minister explained that the growing numbers of extracontinental migrants entering through the border with Colombia could become "difficult to handle", if the situation is not addressed "promptly and in a coordinated manner".

In 2016 Panama established a similar agreement with Costa Rica that regulates the number of migrants that move through the country in an orderly manner en route to the north., although due to the pandemic and the consequent closure of borders thousands were stranded in the country in the last year.

"Our intention is to be able to have an orderly and manageable flow that allows us to give them the necessary attention on their way to the other border", indicated the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mouynes specified that the request could be complemented with a broader binational agreement that would include cooperation and exchange of information and security measures..

Panama has become a mandatory route for migrants, especially extracontinental and Haitians who seek to reach the United States exposing themselves to the dangers involved in crossing the Darien jungle where they even face criminal groups.

The Panamanian Foreign Ministry explained that during the first quarter of 2021, some have entered Panama irregularly 7,150 migrants without prior biosafety controls, despite the existence of health provisions in the countries through which they pass.

A recent UNICEF report states that in recent years 4 years, more of 46.500 migrants crossed the Darien jungle, of which 6.240 They are children, girls and adolescents.

"With restrictions on mobility and the closure of borders to stop the spread of COVID-19, this irregular migratory flow stopped, but it didn't stop at all ", added the United Nations agency.