© Reuters. Panama’s Foreign Minister Janaina Isabel Tewaney shakes hands with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after delivering a joint statement about migration, in Panama City, Panama April 11, 2023. REUTERS/Aris Martinez
PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – The United States, Panama and Colombia will launch a two-month campaign to tackle undocumented immigration through the jungle region separating Colombia and Panama known as the Darien Gap, their governments said on Tuesday following high-level talks.
The campaign aims to end the illicit movement of people and goods through the region and open other pathways for people to migrate, the three governments said in a joint statement.
Panamanian Foreign Minister Janaina Tewaney and her Colombian counterpart Alvaro Leyva Duran met with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in Panama City to discuss the challenge posed by increased illegal crossings through the Darien.
There were almost 88,000 illegal crossings through the Darien Gap in the first three months of 2023, more than six times the number logged in the same period last year, according to official Panama migration data.
Officials from the three countries also pledged to roll out a plan to reduce poverty and promote economic and sustainable opportunities in border communities.