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About 4,990,000 Venezuelans are migrants and refugees in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Panama, there are 121,528 Venezuelan migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, of whom around 93,900 are in need. The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the slow economic recovery had an impact on the livelihoods, basic needs, and access to health services of the Venezuelan population in Panama. ?

Panama is also a transit country for migration to the United States, connecting South with Central America. Since 2020, there has been an increase in the number of Venezuelan migrants using the Darién Gap to cross from Colombia into Panama because of border closures related to COVID-19 containment measures. Since September 2021, the Governments of Panama and Colombia have agreed to allow 650 migrants per day to cross both sides of the border. ?

Despite the agreement between the two countries, at least 1,153 Venezuelan migrants have entered Panama irregularly as at January 2022. ? The harsh climatic conditions, the dangers of the jungle, the lack of access to humanitarian response, and the presence of armed groups in the Darién Gap put migrants crossing from Colombia to Panama at risk of human trafficking, multiple forms of gender-based violence, forced disappearances, kidnappings, and robberies. ?

Latest Developments


By the end of October, more 211,000 people had crossed into Panama from Colombia through the Darien Gap so far this year, of whom 70% were Venezuelan. More than 32,500 of the total number of people crossing were children. During the journey, children and families have suffered violence, including sexual violence, human trafficking, robbery, and exploitation. Their health and lives are also at risk because of the difficult terrain and natural hazards ranging from insects and wild animals to flash floods. Food and non-food items and access to clean water, sanitation, and medical care are needed by people travelling through the jungle, who have required treatment for diarrhoeal illnesses, dehydration, malnutrition, foot wounds, and other medical conditions. Psychosocial care is needed for those experiencing psychological symptoms of distress. The limited capacity of institutions to collect information has led to large information gaps on needs, including the number of people in each municipality, and the type of assistance they receive.?



Nutrition: About 7.5% of the population in Panama is undernourished,? including the Venezuelan migrant and refugee population.  

Livelihoods: Most Venezuelans in Panama work in the informal sector, so the deterioration of livelihoods caused by the pandemic has affected access to food and deteriorated food security. ?

Documentation: Difficulty in accessing documentation and legalisation of migration status also creates a gap in access to the labour market and medical services.? Of the total number of migrants, 79,700 have regularised their status, and 41,898 remain undocumented. ? 



The Urabá region comprises 11 municipalities in the departments of Antioquia and four in Chocó. In Urabá, there is a swampy jungle area known as the Darién Gap, which connects with the Panamanian province of Darién. In this subregion, there have historically been migratory transits from African and Asian countries, such as Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile (where people can travel with less restrictions), to reach the United States through Central America. ?

During 2021, the number of daily arrivals to municipalities in Colombia and then on to Panama ranged between 800–900. ? By the end of 2021, at least 133,726 people had passed through this border – more than all the crossings recorded between 2010–2020. ? On 9 August 2021, the Colombian and Panamanian Governments agreed on a quota of maximum 650 migrants per day allowed to cross the border. ? Given that daily arrivals are greater than departures, on several occasions, a large number of migrants have remained stranded in the Darién Gap for one to four months, waiting to cross into Central America. On some occasions, up to 22,000 migrants have been stuck in municipalities not prepared for hosting high numbers of people. This is the case of Necoclí, a town of just over 70,000 inhabitants. ?

The stranded population, mostly from Haiti (76%) and Cuba (14%), lives across the towns in makeshift camps that lack WASH infrastructure and facilities, food, and necessary NFIs. The situation has put a strain on the capacities of local hospitals, where between 50–60 migrants are attended every day for emergency assistance. Most of them are pregnant women and children. Limited financial resources and medical staff jeopardise access to medicines, prioritised care, and treatment for chronic illnesses, for both the migrant population and the host community. ? As of August 2022, at least 102.067 migrants have entered through the Darien jungle, of which at least 67% are Venezuelan. ?