Fault Lines

Children of the Darien Gap

A family flees violence in Ecuador for the United States, but first they must enter the Darien Gap, a perilous jungle.

Swanny Flores fled Ecuador with her two young daughters and 12-year-old brother after her boyfriend, a local gang leader, murdered her mother and threatened to kill the rest of her family.

She wants to apply for asylum in the United States, but the only way to get there is through the Darien Gap, a 106km (66-mile) stretch of remote and perilous jungle in Colombia and Panama that is the only land route for migrants heading north from South America.

Amid historic regional migration and new travel restrictions from countries in Central America for migrants, the Darien Gap has become one of the most travelled migration routes in the world and a burgeoning humanitarian crisis. Last year, more than half a million people went through the jungle. A quarter of them were children. This is the story of one family’s journey through the Darien Gap.