As thousands of migrants attempt to make their way to the United States, Oxfam and its local partners are responding with essential aid for nearly 2,500 migrants who are stranded at the Guatemala-Mexico border.
According to Oxfam staff in Guatemala, many of the migrants include families with babies and elderly adults.
“Children, adolescents, women and elderly adults have been walking for over a week in the blazing sun. They are exhausted, desperate, hungry and terrified,” said Ivan Aguilar, Humanitarian Coordinator for Oxfam in Guatemala. “They are sleeping outdoors, some with only thin plastic sheets or bedsheets to protect themselves from the rain. Others don’t even have that much.”
Oxfam and its partner organizations are currently distributing thousands of personal hygiene kits and will install 60 latrines, showers and provide access to drinking water in coordination with the town of Tecún Umán, in western Guatemala. Oxfam will also distribute industrial kitchens and water filters to the shelters that are receiving migrants.
In Mexico, Oxfam will designate funds from its Humanitarian Emergency Fund to support migrant rights organizations and shelter networks, which are best positioned to provide direct care and other protective services.
Members of the migrant caravan, which left Honduras on October 13, are fleeing a range of forces including violence, poverty and food insecurity. One woman who spoke with Oxfam staff, explained that she had walked for more than 430 miles from Honduras with her seven-year-old daughter, and was forced to leave two children behind in a shelter. “Help us, we are begging you from the bottom of our hearts. We cannot return to Honduras because we face death threats there.”
Oxfam calls on the Mexican authorities to follow the recommendations of organizations defending migrant rights to grant ‘prima facie’ recognition to the caravan. This would follow Mexican and international laws, allowing refugee status to be recognized without requiring people arriving en masse to present their cases individually.
Oxfam has reiterated its call to the governments of Guatemala, Mexico and the United States to protect the members of the caravan and all migrants in general; to respect the principles of non-refoulement; to provide protection to those who cannot return to their country of origin because of threats to their lives and safety; and to guarantee that children are not separated from their families.
Due to the danger that human trafficking rings pose migrants, Oxfam also calls on the authorities in Guatemala and Mexico to be vigilant and to take measures to prevent human traffickers from taking advantage of the thousands of vulnerable people who are traveling as part of this caravan.
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