Haitian migrant dies in Panama of non-COVID-19 illness


PANAMA CITY (AP) — A Haitian migrant who had been staying in a Panamanian government shelter has died of an undisclosed illness that authorities say was not COVID-19.

Panama’s National Immigration Service said Wednesday that the woman had died in a hospital in the capital of an infectious disease that led to kidney failure. She had previously been at a migrant camp in La Peñita, Darien province where migrants have complained of the conditions.

The announcement came the same day that a judge ordered eight Haitian migrants to remain in jail pending trial on charges they set fire to a tent housing medical supplies at a shelter in remote Darien province near the border with Colombia. Four other migrants facing charges were released and required to check in with authorities twice a week.

They face the possiblility of deportation to Haiti.

Frustrations have been growing for migrants have been stuck in Panama for months by pandemic-casused border closures. The migrants want to be allowed to continue travelling north and have complained about overcrowding and poor conditions in the camps.

There are nearly 2,000 migrants at government-run camps in Darien and additional concentrations of migrants near the border with Costa Rica. The government has defended its treatment of the migrants.