On their trek north towards the United States, some 19,000 migrant children have crossed the dangerous Darien Gap jungle that sprawls the border between Panama and Colombia so far this year, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Monday.

Iran Press/America: That figure is "nearly three times more than the number registered over the five previous years combined," said UNICEF.

The report said almost 20 percent of the migrants crossing the jungle are children, and half of those are below the age of five.

The Darien Gap is one of the main routes for migrants heading from South America to the United States, but the jungle has been overrun by armed groups such as drug and people traffickers.

"The number of migrant children who cross the Darien Gap on foot has hit an all-time high," said UNICEF, adding that the jungle "is one of the most dangerous places for migrants attempting to reach North America."

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