The capital and largest city of Panama, Panama City has an urban population of 881,000, with over 1, 5 million in its metropolitan area. It lies at the Pacific entrance of the Canal, in the province of Panama.
More than any other city in the country, Panama City and its skyline symbolize Panama’s economic growth. However, tens of thousands of its inhabitants do not benefit from this growth. In the shantytowns spread around the city, families live a life without adequate housing or access to public services.
Since 1977, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Panama City.
In Panama, around 5% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old are forced to work.
Many are subjected to the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. That’s mainly the case in the tourist areas of Panama City and in other beach communities.
Children from indigenous and Afro-Panamanian communities are particularly vulnerable – ensuring their social integration and access to education is key to securing a better future for them.
The lives of many families in Panama are overshadowed by the high crime rates. With 12 intentional homicides a year for 100,000 people, the country ranks 28th in the world.
In some neighbourhoods of Panama City, where people are unable to meet basic needs such as sanitation and food, adults and children are particularly vulnerable to falling into crime. Children and young people living here need extra support so that they can stay safe.