Mind the Darién Gap: Migration Increases

By Faith Gonia

100 miles long and 30 miles wide, the Darién Gap connects North and South America. Consisting of solely remote jungle, the Panamanian territory also marks the only break in the 19,000-mile Pan-American highway. It consists of treacherous terrain and completely untouched nature; thus, the Dairén Gap intimidates most from ever daring to cross. 

However, as the stretch of land remains the only above-water connection between the two continents, more and more migrants frequently find themselves with only one option. The United Nations reports that 330,000 people have already crossed this year. 

Those 330,000 have marked the highest annual number of migrants in history, and the year has not yet ended.

“The area is among the most dangerous portions of the long route to the U.S. borders,” according to the Associated Press. “Migrants and international human rights groups have denounced sexual assaults, robberies, and killings…”

Crossing the Darién Gap poses an immense danger to any participant. A spokesperson for the OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), explains the dire concern regarding migration through the stretch.

“[There is] a particular risk for children, women, LGBTI people, and people with disabilities,” Spokesperson Marta Hurtado states.

In an eight year period from 2014 to 2021, 243 migrants died or went missing in the territory. Meanwhile, from January 2021 to April 2023, 124 bodies were found. With increased passings through the perilous gap, the death toll can only be expected to increase.

With steadily increasing migration rates this year, the Darién Gap continues to house countless dangers to those who attempt the trek.