RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Colombian President Iván Duque today urged to jointly and “immediately” resolve the migratory situation at the border between his country and Panama, where thousands of migrants are stranded on the Colombian side waiting to continue their journey to North America.
“I have already given very clear instructions to Migración Colombia to gather all the information and work for hand in hand with the Panamanian authorities. We have to resolve this between the two of us,” Duque said in an interview with the Panamanian television network TVN.
For more than a week, between 10,000 and 15,000 migrants have been waiting to continue their journey to Panama and reach the U.S. or Canada in a Colombian municipality near the Darien, the jungle that forms the border between the two countries and is considered one of the most dangerous migratory routes in the world due to its environmental characteristics and the presence of criminal groups.
Duque explained that such cooperation means that his country can “carry out early interdiction so that these phenomena do not occur and find out who is behind this movement” since migrants “do not arrive by road, many arrive by boat, and there are people who charge significant resources”.
The President pointed out that “the crisis must be resolved immediately” and that they are “willing to provide all the information required”.
“I also think it is important that together with Panama, we can carry out deportation and return processes, as well as regularization processes”, said Duque.
The Colombian president recalled that “this migratory situation is not new, this is not happening for the first time, and this situation has been going on for many, many years”.
“We must be very clear: here we are not talking about floating migrants, but also about a phenomenon that has been worsening with the pandemic, which has to do on the one hand with human trafficking or trying to facilitate irregular migration of people,” added Duque, who urged to turn this “crisis” into an “opportunity”.
Panama closed its land, sea, and river borders with Colombia due to the covid-19 pandemic, but this, as in 2020, did not stop the flow of migrants in transit.
Most of the migrants, among whom Haitians abound, arrive through the Darien jungle, through which thousands of people from all over the world pass every year on their way to North America in search of better living conditions.
According to figures from Migration Colombia, more than 25,000 foreigners entered the country irregularly this year, while Panama counts more than 42,000 through its territory.
Panama and Colombia have already “recalled the need to coordinate the safe passage” of the thousands of migrants who are in Colombian territory waiting to cross into the Central American country through the Darien.