The death toll is higher than in previous years amid an increase in treacherous jungle road crossings.
More than 50 people have died since early 2021 as they attempted to cross the Panamanian jungle along a perilous migratory route to the United States, officials from the Central American country said.
The figure is considerably higher than in previous years, when authorities say an average of 20 to 30 bodies were recovered from the Darien Gap, a 575,000 hectare (1.42 million acre) jungle expanse in the border between Panama and Colombia which the United Nations has called one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
The number is almost guaranteed to be lower than the actual death toll for those making the trip, officials said.
“The Institute of Forensic Medicine and Forensic Sciences of Panama has recorded 53 deaths of migrants under different circumstances in the province of Darien,” José Vincente Pachar, director of the Institute, told AFP news agency on Wednesday. of Forensic Sciences of Panama.
Migrants who hope to travel from South America to the US border with Mexico often have no choice but to cross the jungle, where they not only face natural threats, including snakes, difficult terrain. and dangerous water crossings, but also criminals who steal and rape regularly. travelers.
The recent mass deportation of Haitians from the US-Mexico border further shed light on the situation, with many saying they embarked on the treacherous journey in hopes of reaching the United States after fleeing Haiti for countries in North America. South in the years following a devastating earthquake in 2010.
While activity along the road declined significantly in the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, it has steadily increased since.
About 70,000 people have crossed the Darien Gap so far in 2021, according to Panamanian authorities, a number almost equivalent to the previous five years combined.
On September 24, the Panama Attorney General’s office reported that 10 bodies, including two children, had been discovered.
Pachar, of the Institute of Forensic Sciences, said he is “very [much] possible, the number of deaths will increase ”as more and more people make the trip.
Colombia, for its part, asked Panama on Tuesday to “facilitate” the entry into its territory of minor or pregnant migrants in order to prevent them from attempting to cross the Darien Gap.