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Panama: Dangerous ride for migrants

GLOBAL BRIEFS | A deadly bus accident highlights the dangers of Central American travel

Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty Images

Panama: Dangerous ride for migrants
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Fact box source: The World Factbook-CIA


At least 39 migrants died in a Feb. 15 bus accident—the worst involving migrants in the nation’s history. The bus was carrying more than 60 people to a shelter in the coastal Chiriquí province when it collided with another bus and plunged off a cliff. At least 20 survivors suffered severe injuries. The group reportedly crossed the Darién Gap between Colombia and Panama before boarding the bus. In 2022, a record 248,000 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, took the treacherous 65-mile route, braving jungles and traffickers. At least 60 of them died. —Elizabeth Russell

Lynne Sladky/AP


American law enforcement officers arrested four men on Feb. 14 in connection with the assassination of Haiti’s former president. That brings the total number of people arrested in the case to 11. President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated July 7, 2021, plunging Haiti into chaos. Murders have increased by 35 percent and kidnappings have doubled: Officials say gangs now control over half the capital. Suspected gang members snatched three people leaving Port-au-Prince First Baptist Church after services on Feb. 12. With Prime Minister Ariel Henry requesting international intervention, Canada has promised to send intelligence-gathering navy vessels in an effort to restore enough order for the country to hold presidential elections. —Amy Lewis


At least 6,000 Ukrainian children have been detained illegally in re-education camps, according to a report from the Conflict Observatory. The U.S. State Department initiative used satellite images, Russian state media, and other sources to uncover the data. Russian officials likely coerced many parents into signing release papers or claimed their children would return by the end of last summer. Some children were forcibly taken. The camps’ primary goal is pro-Russian political and cultural indoctrination, according to the report. Two camps appear to be teaching children about firearms and military equipment. —Jill Nelson


A subsidiary of Uzbekistan Railways signed an agreement with the Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA) on Feb. 12, ending a row over a vital shared transit line. Afghanistan depends on the track for about half its imports and much of its humanitarian aid, reported Eurasianet, a news organization at Columbia University. Sogdiana Trans had stopped operating the Uzbek-built track that connects Afghanistan’s border town of Hairatan with the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Feb. 1, claiming the ARA had failed to complete rail line maintenance. The suspension followed a dispute between the Uzbek subsidiary and the ARA over who would operate the railroad. As part of the new agreement, Sogdiana Trans will remain the operator for two years. —Joyce Wu


The country’s oldest church reached a deal on Feb. 15 with three bishops who led a separation that sparked deadly protests. The bishops from the ethnic Oromia region set up their own governing body and declared themselves archbishops. They accused leaders of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church of ­discriminating against the Oromos, who are the largest ethnic group but have long complained of marginalization. The move sparked protests, during which at least 30 people died. Authorities shut down schools and internet access in the capital city of Addis Ababa, fearing more violence. As part of the truce deal, the Orthodox Church reinstated the three clerics and pledged to allocate more resources to churches in Oromia and train more Oromo-speaking priests. —Onize Ohikere


Amsterdam’s city council will outlaw smoking cannabis in public as part of an effort to make its infamous Red Light District more livable for locals. Eighteen million tourists crowd the city’s narrow medieval streets yearly, and the council says residents “suffer from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse in the street.” The historic measures also will require prostitutes to close their shops three hours earlier, at 3 a.m. Bars and restaurants also must close earlier. Long known for legal prostitution and drug use, Amsterdam plans to implement a “stay away” policy aimed at discouraging tourists who visit the city primarily for sex, drugs, and alcohol, and the council is exploring a ban on bachelor and bachelorette parties. —Jenny Lind Schmitt


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