On their way to America, some 19,000 child migrants have crossed the treacherous jungle that straddles the border region between Panama and Colombia so far this year, UNICEF said Monday.
The number of children crossing the so-called Darien Gap is nearly three times the total in the previous five years, UNICEF said in a statement. The organization added that a fifth of the migrants who cross the border are children, and half of them are under the age of 5.
By 2021, at least five children will be found dead in the forest, says UNICEF. It added that “more than 150 children arrived in Panama without parents, some of them newborns, and that number is almost 20 times higher than last year.”
Migrant children sometimes travel with relatives or people smugglers.
“Deep in the woods, robbery, rape and human trafficking are just as dangerous as wild animals, insects and lack of drinking water. Week after week, more and more children die, lose their parents or are separated from relatives on this perilous journey,” Jean said. Gough, UNICEF regional director. (ka / ah)