The migrant caravan in Central America: a humanitarian crisis
Christian Aid is appalled by the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding across Central America. Over 7,000 people from the region are heading towards the border with the US and according to IOM 35% of those migrating are children.
Citing some of the reasons for the mass exodus, our partner, the Centre for Research and Promotion of Human Rights (CIPRODEH), in Honduras recently led a thematic audience at the 169th session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). At the session, it voiced its concern about the situation of displaced persons who have fled their homes due to the widespread violence in the country and that, as a result of the lack of protection from the state of Honduras to the victims, they end up seeking international protection outside of the Northern Triangle Countries (Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala) of Central America.
At Christian Aid we express our solidarity with all migrants, including asylum seekers and forced migrants of all categories, and call on States and international organizations to ensure the rights of people fleeing from their homes. People are on the move, escaping from violence, poverty, marginalisation, and climate and/or disaster related factors. Vulnerable people including children and disabled people have been walking for days enduring soaring temperatures.
The crisis must be addressed through a holistic and comprehensive human rights approach that does not simply take into account the rights of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants, but equally those of internally displaced persons in line with the international Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Against a backdrop of increased displacement and forced migrants in the context of the Americas, the member States of the Organization of American States need urgently to consider enacting a regional instrument such as the Kampala Convention and the Protocol on the Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. On the 20th anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, this call to action is not only opportune but of utmost importance.
Our local partner CASM (Mennonite Social Action Commission) says:
“Given the high number of people fleeing, of which 35% are children and other vulnerable people including the elderly, pregnant women and persons with disabilities, the situation is a humanitarian crisis that urgently needs a response. Most people in the caravan are walking, sometimes taking lifts offered on the road, these people are being injured, with wounds on the feet, children are suffering from diarrhoeal, vomiting, sunstroke and fainting due to the hardships of the journey.”
At Christian Aid, we call on all authorities to avoid mass deportations and abide by principles of humanitarian law. Countries have an obligation to ensure the safe passage of people, to protect the life and the rights of migrants, and to study each case individually.
This crisis highlights the resounding failure of economic, social and migratory policies in the framework of neoliberalism. It also highlights the need for a thorough review of the region's security policies and specifically the need to revise the war on drugs policy, which is at the centre of violence and forced displacement in the region.