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Migrants in Mexico heading for the US. Photo supplied

The migrant emergency facing the US

Central America is experiencing an unprecedented emergency. Between 18 and 27 January, Mexico intercepted 2 000 migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. These countries, including Mexico, occupy seventh to tenth place, among the top ten in the world from which movements of economic migrants and asylum seekers originate.

Published: February 11, 2020, 9:06 am

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    And a mass exodus from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has been classified by relevant reports, such as the Prevention Action Update, as one of the main international threats of 2020 to the United States.

    The official figures, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Organization for Migration, reflect an increase of 80 percent since 2017 and 400 percent since 2014. Countries from which migrants leave for the United States are also places of transit and destination. In 2019, the reception requests of Central Americans in the same region grew around 90 percent compared to last year and about 150 percent since 2014.

    Due to the violence exercised by youth gangs, and groups related to drug trafficking, forced prostitution and the trade in human beings, displacements which involved 247 000 and 70 000 people respectively, were recorded in Honduras and El Salvador. Since the beginning of the socio-political stalemate in Nicaragua, which turned into an internal conflict, in September 2019, almost 100 000 have fled, and over 70 000 are counted in Costa Rica.

    Since October 2018, in addition, thousands have left their homes and joined caravans heading north, in a journey often interrupted or stopped not far from the destination. In 2019, the Mexican government reported that 80 000 Hondurans applied for asylum. The latest caravan started from San Pedro Sula bus station on January 15. On balance, more than 800 000 are at risk and in need of humanitarian attention.

    Half a million people try to cross the border between Mexico and the United States every year. Washington wants Mexico to hold them back or send them back. The Mexican system, however, is collapsing due to the cuts of President López Obrador to the agencies in charge while in January alone, 6 000 more asylum requests were received.

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