Panama: living in limbo, the story of Denis Mecha
Panama City, 19 April 2011 – Refused refugee recognition and granted temporary protection status by the Panamanian government, the indigenous Embera from Colombia have lived in limbo for the past ten years. Denis Mecha and his family are one of the 19 families served and accompanied by JRS Puerto Piña, in the border region of Darien where most of the Embera refugees live. His story is representative of the difficulties faced by members of the refugee community in Puerto Piña who are denied refugee status. Without refugee recognition, Denis describes the helpless situation he and his family find themselves in. They live in a kind of limbo, prevented from moving freely throughout the country, from seeing relatives and taking up employment. As a consequence of this isolation, Denis fears losing contact with his community and their strong traditions. * After years of waiting, Denis and his family were finally recognised as a refugee in early 2011. Nevertheless, his experience is typical of many other Embera community members. ** JRS Panama no longer has a website

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