Friday, December 29, 2023

The Jungle Between Colombia and Panama Becomes a Highway for Migrants From Around the World

AP Photo/Ivan Valencia.File
The jungle between Colombia and Panama becomes a highway for migrants from around the world:
Once nearly impenetrable for migrants heading north from Latin America, the jungle between Colombia and Panama this year became a speedy but still treacherous highway for hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.
Driven by economic crises, government repression and violence, migrants from China to Haiti decided to risk three days of deep mud, rushing rivers and bandits. Enterprising locals offered guides and porters, set up campsites and sold supplies to migrants, using color-coded wristbands to track who had paid for what.
Enabled by social media and Colombian organized crime, more than 506,000 migrants — nearly two-thirds Venezuelans — had crossed the Darien jungle by mid-December, double the 248,000 who set a record the previous year. Before last year, the record was barely 30,000 in 2016.
Dana Graber Ladek, the Mexico chief for the United Nation’s International Organization for Migration, said migration flows through the region this year were “historic numbers that we have never seen.”
AP Photo/Ivan Valencia.File
It wasn’t only in Latin America.
The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean or the Atlantic on small boats to reach Europe this year has surged. More than 250,000 irregular arrivals were registered in 2023, according to the European Commission.
A significant increase from recent years, the number remains well below levels seen in the 2015 refugee crisis, when more than 1 million people landed in Europe, most fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Still, the rise has fed anti-migrant sentiment and laid the groundwork for tougher legislation.
Earlier this month, the British government announced tough new immigration rules aimed at reducing the number of people able to move to the U.K. each year by hundreds of thousands. Authorized immigration to the U.K. set a record in 2022 with nearly 750,000.
A week later, French opposition lawmakers rejected an immigration bill from President Emmanuel Macron without even debating it. It had been intended to make it easier for France to expel foreigners considered undesirable. Far-right politicians alleged the bill would have increased the number of migrants coming to the country, while migrant advocates said it threatened the rights of asylum-seekers.
In Washington, the debate has shifted from efforts early in the year to open new legal pathways largely toward measures to keep migrants out as Republicans try to take advantage of the Biden administration’s push for more aid to Ukraine to tighten the U.S. southern border. --->LOTS MORE HERE
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