Two Guinean kids left behind at the Bogotá airport due to changing migrant paths.

Migration in the treacherous Darién gap is slowing down as less restrictive air routes become available between South and Central America.
After spending several days on their own in the international departures terminal, two children from Guinea in West Africa were taken into government custody in Bogotá’s airport.
According to Colombia’s national immigration department, the children, aged 10 and 13, were traveling with different groups and were left at the airport by their relatives earlier this month for reasons that are unclear.
The discovery of these two children comes as migrants from Africa increasingly use airports in South and Central America as stepping stones on their long journey to the US.
Statistics published by Panamanian officials show that last year, over 12,000 Africans crossed the roadless Darién jungle between Colombia and Panama after flying to Brazil.
However, this year, the number of Africans making the challenging trek through the jungle has dropped by 25% as a new air route from Turkey to countries north of the Darién appears to be more popular.
Colombian officials revealed that the children found in Bogotá’s airport this week had arrived on a direct flight from Istanbul and had plans to fly to El Salvador.
From El Salvador, migrants take connecting flights to Nicaragua, a country that allows people from most African countries to enter without visas after paying a fine.
Subsequently, African migrants make their way overland to the US, says immigration expert Adam Isacson.
“Human smuggling networks are realizing that there are alternative routes to bypass the Darién, for those who can afford it,” Isacson stated. “And they will continue to explore new routes, even if they are complex.”
In September, the International Organization for Migration reported an increase in Cubans and Africans arriving on flights to Nicaragua before heading to the US.
The organization also noted that the number of Africans crossing the Darién had decreased by 65% in the first half of 2023, while 19,000 African migrants had arrived in Honduras through its southern border with Nicaragua, a 550% increase from 2022.
Colombia removed transit visa requirements in May for citizens of several African nations, including Guinea, as part of the leftist government’s efforts to improve relations with African countries.
However, there are no direct flights from Colombia to Nicaragua, meaning that migrants must first stop in El Salvador, which permits African migrants to pass through its airport for a $1,000 fee.
The director of Colombia’s child welfare institute announced on Tuesday evening that the families of the two children abandoned at the airport had been contacted.
She did not specify the location of the families, but she added that it would take time to reunite the children with them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *