Children’s drawings illustrate the perils of the Darien jungle
UNICEF is supporting a child-friendly space where migrant children can receive psychosocial and psycho-educational care.
“Many families who crossed the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama have survived one of the most dangerous jungles on earth, and many of those children arrived traumatized to the Migrant Reception Center,” explains Laurent Duvillier, Regional Chief of Communication of UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In this dense tropical forest, migrant families with children are exposed to violence, including sexual abuse, trafficking and extortion from criminal gangs. And also, to wild animals, insects, extreme heat and humidity, and strong river currents.
As soon as migrant families arrive at the Migrant Reception Center in the Panamanian side of the border, children are conducted to the UNICEF’s Child Friendly Space, where they receive psychosocial and psycho-educational support.
“They need to express their feelings that often they keep bottled up. So, by expressing their needs then they can rebuild their lives,” says Duvillier.
UNICEF and its partner RET Americas are helping migrant children by facilitating them to make drawings and paintings.
Laurent Duvillier shows some of these illustrations.
A boat that a child took from Colombia to Panama. You can see the Panamanian flag.
An illustration of the river, so big, so deep and so difficult for children to cross.
A representation of what is called “The mountains of the death” because many people got hurt or died, including children, by just trying to climb them.
This is a very impactful painting because this is a representation of a child that unfortunately lost his father while crossing the jungle.
Through the jungle anything can happen. There are many threats for families. There are many gangs with weapons. In this drawing you can see a horrible scene, you can see the presence of weapons and feel the violence and the suffering.
This is a representation of a long walk together with the whole family and it is extremely hard to express the sense of hope for a better life.
A representation of the night and stars, remembering that they walked for six to ten days through the jungle.
This drawing was made by a mother who lost her two children while crossing the Darien.
Parents are also so affected because some of them have lost husbands or wives, relatives, and even their own children.