Doctors Without Borders Leaves Darien Gap

1,050Views 0Comments Posted 06/06/2024

The health authorities made the decision after a review of reports on compliance with the agreement they had with the organization to provide health services in the province of Darién.  Doctors Without Borders (MSF) will no longer provide care to migrants in the province of Darién, the Ministry of Health (MINSA) confirmed.  MINSA reported that at the Darién Gap, the dangerous natural border between Colombia and Panama used daily by hundreds of migrants on their way to North America, Doctors of the World-France (MDM-France) will instead provide care.  


As of this week, it has been three months since Doctors Without Borders has suspended medical and humanitarian activities for migrants in Darién, by “order” of the Panamanian Government, due to the lack of a “current agreement” with the MINSA.  The health authorities also reported that the collaboration agreement between Panama and MSF ended on December 31, 2023.  MINSA formally notified MSF on February 29, 2024, of the suspension of activities until review and evaluation of the agreement is completed, since the period established between both parties had been met.  This does not mean that the suspension is permanent.


Two meetings were held, the first was in mid-March, with representatives of the MINSA.  There they requested an explanation to understand the reason for the suspension of the agreement and at that time they were told that they were evaluating whether to renew, as the previous one had already ended on December 31.  In addition, they said that when they had a result, they would notify them.  While in April, they met with members of the Foreign Ministry and promised to try to help clarify the situation.  


At the end of February, MSF reported an increase in sexual violations and the “brutality” suffered by many migrants in the Darién jungle, on the border between Colombia and Panama.  Additionally, one week last February, MSF treated 113 people who suffered sexual assault, including nine minors.  This figure is close to 120 cases treated throughout January, highlighting that last year 676 cases were treated for this reason.  In 2023, MSF attended to 676 cases of sexual violence in Darien.  Between January and February 2024, 328 cases were attended to.