Be Aware of Some of the Risks You May Face If You Cross the Darien to Other Countries in the Region

Entering Panamanian territory through the province of Darien is not a regular access point and crossing it involves high risks. The area does not have a defined route and exposes individuals to many dangers.

The management of the flow of people entering Panama through Darien and the coordination of the Temporary Migrant Reception Stations (ETRMs) are actions carried out by the Government of Panama.

UNHCR and its partners are present at the ETRMs in the Darien Region (southern border) and in Chiriqui (northern border), as well as UNHCR offices in Panama City.

What are the risks of crossing Darien?

  • Extortion
  • High temperatures of up to 35°C
  • Bites or attacks from wild animals
  • Physical or sexual violence
  • Robberies
  • Human trafficking, including sexual and labor exploitation
  • Family separation and disappearances
  • Drowning risk
  • Physical exhaustion during long and dangerous journeys in the jungle
  • Accidents due to terrain conditions
  • Among others

Are there places to receive assistance for people crossing Darien?

People entering Panama through the Darien Region can access ETRMs, which are coordinated and managed by the Government of Panama through the National Migration Service (SNM) and the National Border Service (SENAFRONT). There are three ETRMs in Panama: San Vicente ETRM, Lajas Blancas ETRM, and Los Planes ETRM. The first two are located at the southern border (Darien province), and Los Planes ETRM is in the Chiriqui province in the northern region of the country, near Costa Rica.

In ETRMs, people can receive free services provided by government institutions, international organizations, and civil society organizations. In these stations, there are also traders and private service providers for purchasing food, non-food items, and transportation to the northern part of the country. UNHCR is not involved in any commercial activities of the ETRMs.

Attention: All services offered by UNHCR, and its partners are free of charge. If someone asks for money or favors of any kind in exchange for information, access to documents, or services, SAY NO! All services provided by humanitarian organizations are free, and no one can charge for providing information or humanitarian assistance.