Colombian President Iván Duque has called on Panama's authorities to find a negotiated solution to the crisis of migrants stranded at the border on their way to the United States.
I have already given very clear instructions to Migración de Colombia to collect all the information and to work hand in hand with the Panamanian authorities,” Duque said in a TV interview Sunday.
Duque admitted that both countries needed first to solve today's crisis, “but clearly we are willing to deliver all the information that is required” by Panama, he added.
The Colombian president also insisted it was important for both countries to carry out deportation and return processes and also, where exceptionally appropriate, regularization processes as well as take measures to avoid a reoccurrence of such a large scale mobilization.
For several weeks, thousands of migrants, including minors and pregnant women, have been waiting in the Colombian port of Necoclí for boats to take them to the border with Panama, the next stop on their journey to the United States or Canada.
On their route, they must cross the Darién Gap, a 266 km stretch through a virgin jungle of 575,000 hectares with no land routes, where migrants face criminal groups, wild animals and mighty rivers. According to official data, in 2021 about 27,000 people, including hundreds of children, crossed the Darien, more than a third of whom did so in June.
Most of them are Haitians and Cubans, but there are also Asians and Africans. Upon arrival in Panama, all of them are cared for in different shelters set up by the Panamanian government and different international organizations, where they are given humanitarian assistance.
On Saturday, Colombia's Defense Minister Diego Molano announced the beginning of immediate dialogues with Panama to agree that these migratory flows have a focus on arrival” to the Central American country, while Panama's Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes has called for negotiations at the highest levels while she also asked for international help, especially from the United States.
There are reportedly at least 15,000 people stranded in Necoclí from Asia, Africa and from nations in the region such as Haiti and Cuba. Their presence is regarded as a sign of the crisis unleashed by the pandemic at a global level.
The Colombian Navy has already been instructed to to establish a new pier in Necoclí authorized nearby private shipping companies to offer the transfer of migrants to the point of entry into Panama, while a declaration of “public calamity” there and in nearby Acandí is to be maintained, in order to receive aid from Bogotá in matters of sanitation and supply of drinking water for migrants.