The Migration Policy Institute just published a mini-report on migration through the Darién Gap, the dangerous jungle region straddling Colombia and Panama through which almost 82,000 people migrated in August. It’s written by MPI’s Caitlyn Yates, who has spent months doing research there, and Juan Pappier of Human Rights Watch, who has visited at least a couple of times.
The report concludes that trying to block migrants is a fool’s game in this region of primary forest and difficult topography.
the odds seem stacked against efforts to entirely halt trans-Darien movement. Even if it were not, research shows that blocking established pathways does not end migration, but rather pushes people towards new, more dangerous routes. If the more established land passages became inaccessible, it is likely that the maritime routes would be used more frequently, as would other scarcely traveled interior routes deeper in the jungle. The journey through the Darien would also likely become more expensive, as more migrants would be pushed to pay for guides to navigate the jungle’s geography and around authorities.
Migration in and through the Darien Gap is unlikely to end, at least in the near future. The pathway is already one of last resort. Attempting to dissuade asylum seekers and other migrants from crossing or closing off the most established routes is unlikely to deter the thousands already in line for the journey and unknown numbers of future crossers.