“Moving more and more.” The United Nation says that there are a record amount of migrant children in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Migrants on their way to crossing the Darien Gap in September 2021.Fernando Vergara/AP
Migrants on their way to crossing the Darien Gap in September 2021. Fernando Vergara/AP

The United Nations released a report on Wednesday stating that a record number of children are migrating through Latin America and the Caribbean as a direct result of gang violence, poverty, instability, and climate change.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than 60,000 children traversed the Darien Gap in the first seven months of 2023, which is a key migration route and a perilous stretch of jungle that connects South and Central America. This figure is more than any other year in history and sets a new record.

According to UNICEF, an increasing number of children under the age of 11 were making these perilous voyages, accounting for up to 91 percent of the total number of children passing through important transit sites in the region. This trend was observed at an increasing rate.

According to Garry Conille, director of UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, “an increasing number of children are on the move at an increasingly young age, often by themselves, and coming from a diverse range of countries of origin, including those as far away as Africa and Asia.” This trend is occurring at an earlier and earlier age.
“When they travel through several countries and sometimes the entire region, disease and injury, family separation and abuse may plague their journeys. Even if they make it to their destination, their futures are frequently in jeopardy, even if they survive the journey.”

Children account for around 13% of the migrant population worldwide; however, in Latin America and the Caribbean, this percentage is closer to 25%, making it the highest it has ever been anywhere in the world.
“The unprecedented scale of the child migration crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean urgently requires a stronger humanitarian response as well as the expansion of safe and regular migration pathways for children and families,” said Conille. “This will help protect both their rights and their futures, no matter where they come from.”
“Even if children are successful in reaching their destination, their futures are frequently still in jeopardy.”

One of the most well-known and dangerous hikes on the planet is the journey over the Darién Gap, which is a region of hilly jungle that is inaccessible by road and is located between South America and Central America.

The 66-mile (106-kilometer) trek carries migrants from Colombia to Panama and is an essential route for those who wish to continue their journey to the United States and Canada.
As a result of economic and humanitarian catastrophes, the number of persons who crossed the border in 2022 approximately doubled from the previous year, reaching nearly 250,000. This number is 20 times the annual average that was seen from 2010 to 2020.

The unprecedented movement of people in the Western Hemisphere has placed enormous pressure on the Biden administration, which – despite rolling out a series of measures to stem migration – is still facing the possibility of thousands more people arriving at the southern border of the United States this fall. This places a politically sensitive issue at the forefront on the cusp of a presidential election, which could have a significant impact on the outcome of the election.

In comparison to earlier on in the summer, border patrol agents are reporting an already significant increase in the number of daily encounters at the border. Concerns were raised inside the Biden administration as a result of the nearly twofold increase in the number of families that were detained at the border in July when compared to June. Families are one of the most vulnerable categories.