According to official data made available on Friday, Dec.23, by the Panamanian Foreign Ministry, 243,681 unauthorized migrants have so far this year traveled to North America via the perilous Darien jungle, which serves as the common border for the two countries, Diario Libre reported.

With fewer than two weeks remaining in the year 2022, this number is historical and replaces the 133,726 transients who crossed the Darién in 2021, the 8,594 in 2020, when the borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 30,055 in 2016, during the Cuban migrant crisis.

According to statistics updated as of Dec. 23, the Venezuelan exodus has been the main source of migration through the Darién, with 149,826 Venezuelans, followed by Ecuadorians, 27,921, Haitians, 20,000, and Cubans, 5,821.

After the US Government established a new policy in October under which all Venezuelans who enter that nation by crossing the border of Mexico and Panama irregularly will be ejected to Mexican territory, the migration across the Darién abruptly declined.

Additionally, individuals who are ejected won't be eligible for the program that will grant 24,000 Venezuelans who arrive by plane and with sponsors legal residency in the United States for two years.

According to official Panamanian statistics, 59,773 migrants crossed in October, the busiest month, while 16,632 bystanders did so in November following the US decision.

Panamanian Foreign Minister, Janaina Tewaney, said "Migration will never change and no one will be able to stop it," during a meeting with the local and foreign press.

The important thing, he added, "is that it be organized, planned, respect the minimum rights of people, that it be understood that it is a human drama and that routes like the Darién are not used."

"That jungle is not a route, it is more a punishment for the human being," said the minister of foreign affairs.

People from all over the world who come irregularly to the United States have been using the perilous jungle of the Darién for decades despite the considerable risks that it entails due to its wild nature and the presence of organized crime groups.

The government of Panama has frequently asked for assistance from the international community to address the migration issue and confront it as a regional phenomenon. Panama keeps track of the number of migrants and provides temporary shelters.

Representation image.

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