Transforming lives in Darién jungle — Global Issues

Migrants come ashore from the Chucunaque River after crossing the Darién jungle.

© IOM/Gema Cortés

Migrants come ashore from the Chucunaque River after crossing the Darién jungle.

A rising number of migrants are attempting the dangerous journey across the Darién jungle spanning the Colombia-Panama border. For Etzaida Rios, 35, the impact of providing hope and help runs deep.

She works as a Community Officer with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in a temporary migrant reception centre in San Vicente, one of the first points of arrival for migrants, who are often exhausted, malnourished, dehydrated, or injured.

“People arrive with pressing needs and many questions,” she said, after attending to Zuleybis, who fractured her leg while crossing the Darién with her husband José and four children. The Venezuelan family received treatment at the centre before continuing their path north.

“The biggest challenge is witnessing suffering and hearing heartbreaking stories,” she said. “While we see terrible things on television or read about them, it is even harder and more frustrating to see it with your eyes as it unfolds before you.”

Read more about Ms. Rios’ story here.

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