Thursday 23 May 2019
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business-standard - 7 days ago

Panama sees surge in migrants crossing perilous Darien Gap

Venise Felizor lay on a mattress in a warehouse-turned-shelter on a hot, sticky afternoon with her 20-month-old son, Wesly, in her arms, the boy coughing and wailing after suffering from diarrhea for days. Originally from Haiti, they recently appeared in this tiny Panamanian village after a six-day hike through the jungle along the Colombian border, where armed robbers stole her husband s backpack containing the $1,000 that he had saved from two years working in Chile. The thieves raped three women in their group. The way was very dangerous, said Felizor, 26. I thought my son was going to be lost. I saw scenes of death. Panamanian authorities are struggling to contend with a spike in the number of migrants passing through what is known as the Darien Gap, a roadless, lawless region of tropical isthmus that is one of the most dangerous stretches for people heading north from South America, usually toward the United States or Canada. It s the biggest migratory crisis Panama has faced


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