Central American bishops to address migration crisis in Darien jungle — By: Catholic News Agency

In 2023, over half a million migrants headed toward the United States crossed the Darien Gap, the inhospitable jungle region between Colombia and Panama. / Credit: Gonzalo Bell/Shutterstock

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 8, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The migration crisis involving hundreds of thousands of people crossing the dangerous Darien jungle en route to the United States, a distance of about 2,600 miles, will be addressed by the leaders of the bishops’ conferences of Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica at a meeting to be held March 19–22.

The meeting was convened by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and will take place in Panama City. According to ADN Celam, the news agency of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops’ Council, “the presidents of the Social Pastoral Commission-Caritas/Human Mobility will also attend.”

The Darien Gap is an inhospitable jungle region between Colombia and Panama and is crossed every year on foot by hundreds of thousands of people who want to migrate to the United States.

According to the Colombian People’s Ombudsman’s Office, in 2023 more than 520,000 people crossed this territory into Panama, of which 406,905 were adults and 113,180 were minors. This amounts to an increase of 110% compared with 2022.

Regarding the origin of the migrants, there were 328,650 Venezuelans, 57,250 Ecuadorians, 46,422 Haitians, 25,565 Chinese, 18,841 Colombians, and thousands of others from different countries.

ADN Celam reported that the archbishop of Panama, José Domingo Ulloa, explained that the objective of the meeting is to propose actions to be taken to deal with this migration crisis.

“We want to raise much more awareness. It’s to make people aware of the danger that our migrants face due to drug trafficking, the “coyotes,” and the reality of that jungle where hundreds of migrant brothers have died,” Ulloa said.

“Coyotes” can refer to human traffickers who exploit their victims or human smugglers, persons who facilitate illegal migration through transportation, fraudulent documents, etc.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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