Guatemala + 3 more

Guatemala: Population Movement - DREF Operation N° MDRGT017, Operation Update Report N° 1


Summary of the main revisions made to the emergency action plan:

The GRC is finalizing the procurement processes for the replacement of pre-ordered supplies to respond to the caravans. Some of these supplies were used to provide services to the population that moved from July 25 until the second week of August 2021, where the influx of Honduran migrants remained constant. The flow of people did not occur as expected according to the scenarios proposed. According to the new context, changes in the people's migration strategy have been included. People are traveling in smaller groups gathered in Guatemalan territory. These groups entered the country on different days and not in a massive movement as has been done before.

The change of context has forced the GRC to provide services to migrants who are returning. Approximately 4,000 migrants have returned from August 11 to 20 through the northern border of Guatemala with Mexico called El Ceibo.

As of August 18, the GRC began to provide humanitarian assistance to returning migrants, installing a Humanitarian Services Point at the El Ceibo border. Since then, the GRC has sought to change its strategy and include the services provided to date in this DREF, providing a new response approach according to the context.

In order to extend GRC's coverage to this new situation, the operation will be extended by one month. The new end date is 30 November 2021. It is expected that flow of returnees will keep going on in November. This request for a one-month non-cost extension is aligned with the current migrant response in Honduras supported by the DREF.


Disaster Description

Massive population movement (caravans)

On 23 July 2021, the Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM for its acronym in Spanish) shared information about an alert issued on a possible mass movement ("Caravan") of 12,000 people arriving from Honduras at the end of July. Based on the alert, migration authorities carried out inter-institutional coordination activities to create an approach strategy to address the possible massive population movement. During the days before the possible migrant caravan, the IGM maintained communications with Honduran migration authorities to provide a binational response, as it had done in past mass movements, where the processes of safe return from Guatemala to Honduras were activated.

According to social networks and monitoring by the Honduran Red Cross, between 9,000 and 12,000 people were expected to enter Guatemalan territory in mixed flows, including children, adolescents, adults, men and women. Through the communication and coordination mechanism established between the HRC, GRC and the IFRC, in which the ICRC was invited to participate, it was possible to generate a dialogue and coordination between both National Societies since 23 July, where it was agreed to carry out emergency plans of action in preparation to provide a relevant response to the possible migrant’s caravan.

The National Society was prepared to assist migrants in transit through the provision of supplies such as hygiene kits, safe water, first aid equipment in the branches of Guatemala City, Chiquimula, Mazatenango, Coatepeque, Tecún Uman, Izabal and Peten (as contemplated in the GRC National Plan of Action). This plan entailed at the same access points of previous caravans can be the same for this potential caravan, that is, through the borders of Agua Caliente and El Florido, in the department of Chiquimula, and the border of El Cinchao, in the department of Izabal. And the access points to Mexico would be the borders of La Técnica and El Ceibo, in the department of Petén, and Tecún Umán, department of San Marcos.

Population movements began on July 25 from Honduras, with small groups leaving San Pedro Sula and entering mainly through the Corinto border in Izabal. The groups that entered Guatemala from July 25 to August 18 joined in groups of less than 30 people, many of them already grouped in Guatemalan territory. The HRC reported that no more than 100 people gathered at the Gran Terminal de Buses, in San Pedro Sula, at the end of July, as had been reported, GRC maintained its 7 Humanitarian Services Points active during the migratory route in the departments of Petén, Izabal, Chiquimula, Suchitepéquez, Quetzaltenango and San Marcos. Until August 1, groups of 15, 20, and 25 people entered the country every day. Currently, the flow of people has decreased, and the number of visits ranges from 5 to 15 per day in some Humanitarian Service Points.

Migrants do not enter Guatemala at the administrative border offices (migration and customs); they travel through irregular places -blind spots- which makes it difficult to register them. The National Society has carried out a count based on the number of migrants who approach the HSPs, where the registers indicate that children represent 15.40% of the people who attended. As of August 18, groups continue to enter using the same dynamics. GRC reports 5993 people were assisted. The presence of security forces has decreased along the northeastern migratory routes. These small groups migrating are a new migration modality, considering that the governments stop massive movements. Since August 18, the NS has continued to provide regular services at its HSPs in Izabal and Chiquimula as an entry and transit migratory route.

Population movements and mixed flows in Guatemala have increased, enhancing the needs and vulnerabilities of people on the move.