Oxfam has expressed its concern for the vulnerable situation faced by the over 5,000 migrants who at this moment are walking in caravan through Central America towards the border with the United States. Risks are high and none of the areas along the way are sufficiently prepared to handle the situation. Oxfam is making an urgent appeal to the governments of the countries through which the people will soon be walking, chiefly in Guatemala and Mexico, for them to guarantee the migrants’ human rights, and is asking the United States government to provide support to those who are seeking asylum and/or refuge because of the imminent danger posed for their own and their families’ lives.
On 13 October, over 1,000 people left San Pedro de Sula, Honduras, to walk to the United States. The caravan already has over 5,000 migrants, including children and adults, women, older adults and people with disabilities, and it is likely to swell in numbers with every day, producing a mass migration unprecedented in Central America.
The migration is caused by the growing difficulties vulnerable communities face for exercising their rights. The migrants are fleeing widespread violence, poverty, the effects of climate change, food insecurity and the scant opportunities for a life with dignity, with undivided families, and include those who feel that “they have no more to lose”. They have set off on a perilous, difficult and improvised journey, and the odds are high that they will be denied the universal human right to freedom of movement, both on the way and on arrival at the United States border.
In November of 2014, the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, together with the vice-president of the United States, launched the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, to improve the standards of living in those countries and tackle the structural causes of migration. Four years later, the plan has clearly not had the hoped-for results. Oxfam urges the governments to conduct an in-depth analysis into its lack of impact.
In the face of this new migration crisis, Oxfam calls on the governments of Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States to protect the people in the caravan and all migrants in general, and to respect the principles of non-refoulement, providing protection mechanisms for those who cannot return to their countries for fear of threats to their lives or physical integrity and guaranteeing that children are not separated from their families.
In view of the high risk of human trafficking in these areas, Oxfam particularly calls upon the national authorities of Guatemala and Mexico to be on high alert and to take the measures to stop the operations of these migration mafia, which could take advantage of the vulnerability of the thousands of people travelling in the uncertain conditions of the caravan.