Border personnel in Panama exchanged experiences concerning migration management in emergency contexts
Members of the different coordination mechanisms in migration management with presence in the two border provinces of Panama, Darien and Chiriqui, participated in the II Exchange of Experiences on Migration. This was held between September 27 and 29, 2021, with the objective of continuing to strengthen a national and cross-border work platform for the protection of migrants in vulnerable conditions and in the context of emergencies.
Topics addressed included inter-institutional coordination mechanisms for migrant populations in vulnerable situations, how the Human Mobility Group of the United Nations System in Panama works, and a tour of the Migrant Reception Station (MRS) of Los Planes de Gualaca, province of Chiriqui. The participants accompanied the reception of 1,047 migrants who arrived in 19 buses from Darien, thus learning part of the dynamics within the MRS.
It was also explained how some local coordination spaces function, such as the Permanent Commission for the Protection of Migrants in Conditions of Vulnerability (COPPAMI) and the Darien Technical Committee for Migration (MTDM), inaugurated on March 23 of this year, with the approval of the governor and the Technical Board of the province of Darien. The MTDM is a mechanism that seeks intersectoral coordination of operational actions in response to the protection and assistance needs of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and those who may have other protection needs, as well as the needs and impact of migration on the receiving communities.
It should be noted that Panama, contrary to popular belief, is a country of transit, destination and origin. For this reason, Dr. Myriam Cedeño, head of Public Health of the Ministry of Health, presented the binational cooperative management on the northern border with Costa Rica in relation to the circular migration of the Ngäbe and Buglé indigenous peoples during the coffee harvest.
The meeting was attended by authorities such as Luis Estribí, Mayor of the Municipality of Gualaca; Esmeldo Márquez, Senior Prosecutor specialized against Organized Crime; both regional border directors of the National Migration Service; Commissioner Edgar Mora, Chief of the Fourth Eastern Brigade of the National Border Service; Rogelio Vásquez, Cooperation Coordinator of the Executive Secretariat of the Binational Agreement; Johanna Rodríguez, Regional Manager of the Costa Rican Migration Police; regional directors and representatives of the National Migration Service, the National Women's Institute, the United Nations System in Panama, as well as representatives of other Panamanian and Costa Rican institutions and non-governmental organizations involved in the coordination and humanitarian protection of mixed flows of people.
As a result of this continuous effort, the consolidation of a coordination space has begun, which already has a directory of contacts and quarterly follow-up meetings between members, as well as platforms for information exchange that will allow the articulation of joint actions that contribute to capacity building and to raise awareness of the risks faced by migrants and the accompaniment provided by these coordination spaces.
About this exchange, Heilyn Rojas, ambulance driver of the Costa Rican Red Cross in Ciudad Neily and representative of COPPAMI, mentioned that "learning is knowledge and sharing makes great allies and beautiful friendships".
This meeting is part of the activities of the IOM Western Hemisphere Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.