The Path to Safety


Each year, tens of thousands of people leave their home countries in search of safety from violence or persecution. For many asylum seekers, however, the journey to a better life is filled with unimaginable risks and dangers.

In South America, asylum seekers often embark on the perilous route between Colombia and Panama, known as the Darien Gap. Families and individuals traversing this once-impassable stretch of dense jungle risk dehydration, venomous snake encounters, drownings, and attacks from criminal groups. In Mexico, vulnerable families seeking to escape violent cartels cling to the side and huddle together on top of the notorious freight train known as "La Bestia" (The Beast). Passengers are exposed to freezing temperatures at night and scorching heat during the day.

Tragically, not all who embark on these treacherous paths will reach their final destination. Those who do must prepare to face countless more barriers and challenges both at the border and within the United States. With our local partners, we welcome families and individuals seeking asylum and we advocate for the protection of the most vulnerable newcomers.

Explore the common paths and stops people make on their journey to safety.

CWS staff visit to the Darien Gap

Photos: Monica Arango/CWS and Annalee Giesbrecht/Mennonite Central Committee.

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