New York, October 22, 2018
The Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) operates 250 programs for migrants around the world---shelters, community centers, and parishes. SIMN manages migrant shelters in Guatemala City; Tecun Uman, Guatemala; Tapachula, Mexico; and Tijuana, Mexico.
The migrant “caravan” of several thousand persons which left Honduras last week on a journey to safety consists of vulnerable children and families seeking asylum in Mexico and the United States. They are migrating in a large group in order to protect themselves from human traffickers, corrupt government and enforcement officials, drug cartels, and unscrupulous smugglers.
It is clear to us that the governments of the Northern Triangle countries are unable to protect their own citizens from this violence, and that governments in the region need to, pursuant to international law, provide them an opportunity to attain safe haven. In this regard, we welcome the Mexican government’s invitation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) to assist in assessing the situations of these migrants and others from the region who may have valid claims for asylum.
We urge the United States and other countries in the region to join this effort by accepting referrals of bona fide refugees identified during this process. We decry the exploitation of this tragic situation through harsh rhetoric toward and threats against this vulnerable population.
Over the long-term, the international community must address the root causes of this flight, namely violence, impunity, poverty, and corruption in the Northern Triangle countries. Solving these problems is the only way to provide a sustainable and long-lasting solution to the ongoing forced displacement of families and children in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.