darién gap migrants are abused, tortured, sent to hell
In recent months, a record number of migrants have crossed the Darién Gap, a geographic region in the Isthmus of Panama connecting the American continents within Central America. While crossing the Darién Gap, migrants have faced abuse, torture, and violence. Despite getting into trouble, migrants continue to take the Darién Gap route. Darién Gap has become a major transit route for migrants from South America and the Caribbean.
Migrants often risk their lives crossing the Darién Gap, a dangerous jungle at the Colombia-Panama border. Migrants travel through the deadly jungle in their quest for a better life.
Human Rights Watch has published a 62-page report titled, “‘This Hell Was My Only Option’: Abuses Against Migrants and Asylum Seekers Pushed to Cross the Darién Gap,” to highlight the plight of thousands of migrants. In the report, HRW documented serious abuses and torture against migrants. Migrants also faced sexual violence and organized crime in the area.
Migrant crisis in the Darién Gap
The restrictions on migrants movement from South American countries to Mexico and Central America have forced migrants to cross the Darién Gap. Migrants reach their destination countries after making the hazardous trek across the Darién jungle.
Juanita Goebertus Estrada, Former Member of the House of Representatives of Colombia and Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said in a report, “The devastating stories we heard in the Darién Gap are the result of failed immigration policies that push people into danger and abuse.”
Plight of migrants crossing the jungle
HRW conducted interviews of 300 people, which included migrants and asylum seekers. While crossing the jungle, they faced robbery and serious abuses, including sexual violence.
On the Colombian side of the Darién Gap, armed group torture migrants. They collect around US$125 per person crossing the Darién Gap.
On the Panamanian side of the Darién Gap, migrants are routinely robbed, sexually abused, and at times raped. Migrant women have been reporting sexual violence in the Darién Gap since April 2021.
A migrant woman revealed that a man shoved her against a tree and sexually assaulted her. Migrants, including women and children, have often faced extortion, human trafficking, sexual assault, and other violent criminal activity.
The number of migrants risking their lives to cross the Darién Gap is expected to rise in the coming months. The authorities must provide necessary support and protection to migrants.