Panama

Since 2009, RET has directly supported more than 31,248 direct participants in panama, 44% of them are vulnerable women and indirectly benefitted 156,240 participants and the inauguration of 20 facilities throughout 28 projects focused on Protection, Education, Disaster Risk Reduction, Self-reliance & Livelihoods, Gender Equality & Social Inclusion.

RET has promoted inclusive and safe educational community environments for vulnerable children, adolescents and youth in Panama, allowing them to face the effects of crises, violence and disasters since 2009.

Panama faces a growing wave of discriminatory and xenophobic attitudes/actions from public officials and host communities due to the steady increase of foreigners in the country, especially Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, Salvadorian and Honduran asylum seekers.

RET’s operations during the fiscal year of 2018 & 2019 were focused in the provinces of Panama, Colon, San Miguelito and Darien with a long-lasting solution of integrating the asylum seekers into local communities. RET implemented projects to build networks to improve self-sufficiency and integration and strengthening of the institutional capacities for the assistance, protection and inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees as well as to strengthen the socioeconomic integration of youth in the education system, and to develop their employability profiles.

Current Projects

Closing gaps for self-reliance and integration: Consolidating networks for the assistance, protection and inclusion of asylum-seekers and refugees in Panama and Colón 

According to statistics from the National Office for Refugee Affairs, Panama has two thousand three hundred and nighty-nine recognized refugees and a backlog of approximately two thousand applications from asylum seekers. These populations face important limits to their socio-economic integration into the host community. A lack of access to health services and psychosocial support; the high cost of living and of basic food or school supplies; little access to documentation or psycho-educational and pedagogical support (which limits school enrolment and permanence); as well as scarce capacity building opportunities to start or strengthen sustainable livelihoods are all contributing factors to this limited integration.

The project focused on bridging these gaps using various approaches. It included access to health, shelter and food during emergencies, legal assistance, psychosocial support, access to education and pedagogical support for educational permanence, access to bank accounts and loans, and the development of capacities to generate sustainable livelihoods. The project is also centered on protection and prevention against xenophobia and discrimination, supporting persons in need of international protection in the access and enjoyment of their rights (legal assistance), in addition to providing institutional strengthening to local government organizations and community groups.

The project increased self-sufficiency and integration opportunities for vulnerable refugee families and asylum seekers by strengthening partnerships and networks with key public institutions and civil society organizations that provide humanitarian assistance and basic services.

This project, implemented between October 2019 and September 2020, was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) and implemented by RET in Panama.

Building networks to improve self-sufficiency and integration: strengthening institutional capacities for the assistance, protection and inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees in Panama and Colon

According to statistics from the National Office for Refugee Affairs, Panama has two thousand three hundred and nighty-nine recognized refugees and a backlog of approximately two thousand applications from asylum seekers. These populations face important limits to their socio-economic integration into the host community. A lack of access to health services and psychosocial support; the high cost of living and of basic food or school supplies; little access to documentation or psycho-educational and pedagogical support (which limits school enrolment and permanence); as well as scarce capacity building opportunities to start or strengthen sustainable livelihoods are all contributing factors to this limited integration.

The project focused on bridging these gaps using various approaches. It included access to health, shelter and food during emergencies, legal assistance, psychosocial support, access to education and pedagogical support for educational permanence, access to bank accounts and loans, and the development of capacities to generate sustainable livelihoods. The project is also centered on protection and prevention against xenophobia and discrimination, supporting persons in need of international protection in the access and enjoyment of their rights (legal assistance), in addition to providing institutional strengthening to local government organizations and community groups.

The project increased self-sufficiency and integration opportunities for vulnerable refugee families and asylum seekers by strengthening partnerships and networks with key public institutions and civil society organizations that provide humanitarian assistance and basic services.

This project, implemented between September 2018 and September 2019, was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) and implemented by RET in Panama.

Promotion of access to rights and local integration of young migrants and refugees 

Many local integration challenges face children, adolescents and young people seeking asylum and taking refuge in Panama. The limited educational prospects, livelihoods and/or entrepreneurial opportunities coupled with a weak legal assistance services and socio-cultural tensions are amongst the different adversities facing the migrants in Panama.  

This project aims to contribute to the integration and protection of children, adolescents and youth who are seeking asylum or are refugees/PNIP. This is done through various interventions such as protection, education, socio-cultural programs to facilitate integration and generate sustainable solutions for safe and inclusive communities.

Advocacy and institutional strengthening for the incorporation of integrated disaster and emergency risk management in public policies related to children and adolescents.

The project aimed to strengthen the institutional capacities of the State entities responsible for the education, social development and integral protection of children and adolescents in the Panama and Darien provinces. Panama has the highest urbanization rate in Central America: 68% of the population lives in urban environments. This urban growth has not been adequately planned or controlled by the State, generating an urban context highly vulnerable to geological and hydro-meteorological threats.

Natural disasters subtract children and adolescents from their protective environments, interrupting or limiting access and permanence in the educational system as well as to social services of food, health, or identification. This increases the dropout rate, child labor, violence and insecurity and limits access to water, housing, recreation and compromises family and social relationships. The objective of this program is to strengthen the institutional capacities of civil servants to ensure participation and protection of those with and without disabilities in emergency and disaster situations in Panama, hereby promoting inclusion and accessibility. This is done through a multisectoral focus, a focus on public policies, programs, plans, and projects focused on childhood and adolescence.

Adolescents and young people with disabilities become resilient in prepared and inclusive communities in Panama

The project aims to strengthen adolescents and young people with disabilities to become actors of change for decentralized comprehensive disaster risk management and first response actions using an inclusive, multisectoral and community-based approach in in Herrera and Los Santos provinces.

This project, implemented between April 2019 and April 2020, was funded by USAID Office of U.S Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and implemented by RET in Panama.

Prospective change to change lives.

Refugees, Asylum seekers and migrants are facing many limitations finding economic opportunities in Panama, those challenges are worsening by the complicated labor policies such as (permissions, titles certifications, careers not eligible for migrants, etc). Present tension between the refugees and the host community, with the latter showing signs of xenophobia and discrimination. All these factors are aggravating the vulnerabilities amongst the refugees especially of young women and girls whom are more exposed to gender-based violence.

The project aims to capacitate young refugees to become local guides and promote the heritage of Panama in collaboration with “The Faculty of Alternative Tourism” University of Panama, and six governmental organizations and civil society actors.

Friendly spaces for migrants’ girls, boys and adolescents in Darien border. 

In response to human mobility in the Americas and the lack of a comprehensive and effective response, tailored to the needs of children and adolescents; the project aims to create cross border “Friendly Spaces” for migrant children on the Darien border, supporting the families, in particularly children and adolescents entering the Panamanian territory through the Darien jungle in border with Colombia.
The safe spaces will act as a “Temporary Humanitarian assistance station (ETAH)” and will provide children and adolescents with psychosocial support and recreational activities to ensure their wellbeing while on the migratory route.