Description of the disaster
In 2021, the number of migrants crossing the Darien Gap has increased (see figure below), alarming institutions and organizations that provide humanitarian assistance in the field. According to the registers of the National Migration Service of Panama (SNM by his acronym in Spanish), between January and July 2021, 45,150 migrants (33,077 adults and 12,073 children)3 have arrived in Panama from Colombia after crossing the jungle of Darien, which represents the highest figure recorded in the last 6 years (30,065 in 2016) and has also exceeded by almost 42% the total number of migrants registered during 2019 (22,102).
The migratory flow comes from different regions, with the highest number coming from the Antilles region, especially Haitians and Cubans. According to official figures, the number of Haitians has increased considerably; comparing data from recent months the increase has been 176.5% (June 5,248 and July 14,511).
From South America there has been an increase in the number of people coming from Chile and Brazil (corresponding to children of Haitian nationals whose birth records correspond to these countries), and migrants from Venezuela have increased about 31%, in 2020 only 50 Venezuelan migrants crossed the Darien Gap, and during the first 7 months of 2021, 531 migrants from Venezuela have already crossed the border.
Migrants continue to arrive in Darien, most of them heading to North America, enduring all kinds of risks while crossing the Darien jungle and all along the migratory route in Central America and Mexico. Some of the main factors that have generated the increase in migration flows are the socio-political and economic situation in the countries of origin, violence, unemployment, racism, inequality of opportunities, increased poverty, and extreme weather conditions. In addition, an important triggering factor are disasters, such as the recent earthquake that occurred in Haiti on 14 August 2021.