Colombian President Iván Duque made a call on Tuesday for a “hemispheric” response to the migration crisis led by Haitians who travel en masse to the United States.
Duque said that the increase in the arrival of Haitians in recent months to Colombia and Panama on their way to the United States is no longer just a problem for those two countries.
Haiti is going through the ravages caused by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last August, the COVID-19 pandemic and high levels of unemployment, among many other problems, said the Colombian president.
“The way in which this situation is going to be dealt with has to invite all the countries of the region, and almost that of the hemisphere, to act responsibly,” the president told reporters in New York.
In recent months, Colombia has registered an increase in the flow of migrants, mostly Haitians, from Chile and Brazil, where they arrived after the devastating earthquake in their country in 2010. On their way north they risk their lives in the dangerous Darien jungle, the natural border between Colombia and Panama.
More than 67,100 people have irregularly crossed the border between January and August this year, according to the National Migration Service of Panama.
Duque, who concluded a trip to the United States to attract investment, said that there must be “clarity” in the offers of temporary immigration status that the United States has granted to Haitians who already live in the United States.
Haitians who migrate north, Duque said, believe that these concessions are a kind of “blank check” for all who arrive in that country, when in reality they are not.
“There are people who have tried to sell that idea, trying to capture rents by promoting illegal migration to the southern border of the United States,” said the president. For this reason, he called for a meeting between countries to be held “quickly” to coordinate efforts with the aim of solving the migration crisis.
Duque also clarified that the temporary protection status he has offered is for the huge number of Venezuelan migrants who were in Colombia. “At that time we supported a hemispheric solution to this situation (of the Haitian migration crisis),” said the president.
The Colombian president added that, unlike Venezuelans, Haitians do not seek to stay in Colombia or Panama.
“And therefore the solution of that particular situation also requires that the entire hemisphere act, and of course we also need coordination with the United States,” said the president.
At least three migrants died and a child under eight months of age was reported missing after being shipwrecked in the Colombian Caribbean trying to reach the coast of Panama, the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office reported on Monday.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Monday that the number of children who have crossed the Darien reached almost 19,000 so far this year, an unprecedented number.
In addition, the death of five minors has been reported in the jungle and another 150, including some newborns, who arrived in Panama without their parents.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.