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Colombia - Panama: Population Movement - Information Bulletin N° 3

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Situation Report
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This bulletin is being issued for information and reflects the current situation and details available as of July 2021. This document covers the situation and needs of population movement at the border between Colombia and Panama. It does not include information related to the migrant caravans traveling from Central America to North America.

The Situation

Colombia:

Necoclí has been a reception and transit point for transcontinental migrants wishing to reach North America, mainly the USA, via the Pan-American route that crosses Colombia to Panama through the Darien Gap.

It is estimated that more than 46,500 migrants (more than 6,200 children and adolescents) have transited through the Darién Gap during the last 5 years, facing environmental, protection, social (armed and other violent actors), environmental and social risks, and physical and mental health risks3.

According to UNICEF, the number of children transiting has increased from 109 since 2017 to 1,653 in 2020.

On April 30/2021, the governments of Colombia and Panama sealed an agreement for comprehensive and responsible assistance to irregular migrants, with a commitment to share information, response strategies, and joint monitoring.

In the last days, around 10,000 migrants are in the municipality of Necoclí waiting for transit to Sapzurro (Chocó), to continue their passage to the north of the continent through the "Darién Gap", entering Panamanian territory through the village of Las Lajas, in the community of "Bajo Chiquito”.

The migratory dynamics in the municipality of Necoclí due to the arrival of the migrant population shows signs of agglomeration and containment currently due to:

  • Rainy season in the Colombian territory and the sea level in the Gulf of Urabá, where weather conditions have not allowed the constant and fluid departure of boats, generates a damming of migrants.

  • The departure of boats from the dock is done 3 days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) regularly. Irregularly, boats leave at night with undocumented migrants.

On July 26, 2021, 300 people were able to embark on boats set up for the journey, and on July 27, 800 more tickets were sold. However, restrictions on navigation continue.

Migración Colombia is present to regulate the prices of tickets for the boats, using the hotel infrastructure as a channel to guarantee equal treatment for everyone.

Moreover, the mayor's office has scheduled a census exercise in hotels and homes where migrants are staying to assess the municipality's capacity. It has also been registered the presence of migrants and refugees from Venezuela.