Panama: Darien Humanitarian Shelter Niches Module

Darien, Panama (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), together with the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (IMELCF) and the Municipality of Pinogana participated in the ceremony of delivery of the "Module of Niches for Forensic Humanitarian Shelter in the Municipality of Pinogana", today, March 9, 2023, in the community of El Real de Santa Maria, province of Darien.

The construction of this module is the result of a cooperation agreement between the ICRC Regional Delegation for Panama and the Caribbean, the IMELCF and the Municipality of Pinogana. It consists of a structure of one hundred forensic niches whose objective is to enable the mortal remains of people who died along the Darien migratory route to be preserved in dignified conditions.

The delivery ceremony was attended by members of the ICRC Regional Delegation for Panama and the Caribbean, representatives of the Municipality of Pinogana, the community of El Real de Santa María, personnel from the Public Prosecutor's Office and the National Migration Service, as well as representatives of the IMELCF.

"It is undoubtedly a primary obligation to make every possible effort to ensure that the human remains of people who die for various reasons along the migration route are preserved in dignified conditions until they can be returned to their families. For this reason, the existence of this module is a concrete measure that is now available for this humanitarian objective in the Darien," said Marisela Silva Chau, Head of the Regional Delegation for Panama and the Caribbean.

The one hundred niches delivered today constitute a structure that allows the individual preservation, in dignified conditions, temporarily or finally, of the mortal remains of people who have died along the Darien migratory route. This structure may house mortal remains whose identity has not been established for various reasons, or which, despite having been identified, have not been claimed by their relatives, due to the impossibility of locating them or that, because of the situation of the latter, it is not possible for them to claim such remains.

In the same sense, this Module is also available for the individual and dignified burial of those residents of El Real de Santa María who, having died and been identified, do not have relatives to claim their mortal remains.

Furthermore, the "Forensic Humanitarian Shelter Niche Module in the Municipality of Pinogana" also provides the necessary conditions so that, in the future, when faced with the need for a search process on the part of family members, the mortal remains disposed there can be preserved for the purpose of their identification and subsequent restitution to their relatives, thus finally alleviating their uncertainty and suffering.

This Module is the materialization of a cooperative effort for the humanitarian forensic response in Darien -between the ICRC, the Municipality of Pinogana, the IMELCF and the Public Prosecutor's Office- which also has a regulatory and maintenance framework, according to the corresponding standards on the matter.

The ICRC, a neutral, impartial, and independent humanitarian organization, in conjunction with the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of each country, works, among other things, to locate missing persons, restore family links, enable the exchange of messages between relatives and clarify the fate of persons whose whereabouts are unknown as a result of armed conflict, other situations of violence and/or migratory flows linked to these contexts. In Panama, the ICRC, through its Regional Delegation for Panama and the Caribbean, provides support for these services in conjunction with the Panamanian Red Cross.

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