Guatemala + 3 more

Guatemala: Population Movement (MDRGT014) - DREF Operations Update n° 1

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

In October 2018, two large groups totalling more than 10,000 individuals set off from Honduras and El Salvador, on foot, as part of what are now known as "caravans". Since then, there has been a permanent flow of migrants who use Guatemala as a transit country on their way to Mexico, and ultimately the US, driven by the desire to ensure the safety and well-being of their families. According to estimates by Guatemala’s Casa del Migrante (Migrant House), more than 13,000 migrants used the country as a transit corridor between October and November. A large number of these migrants are children, older adults, unaccompanied minors, pregnant women or entire nuclear families. However, this group started splitting up into smaller groups as they travelled through Guatemala and Mexico. Less than 7,000 were left by the time they reached Mexico as some migrants decided to return to Honduras due to the hardships encountered along the way. Other migrants are waiting to submit asylum requests to US authorities while others continue north toward the US-Mexico border.

As the first group of Hondurans arrived in Guatemala on 18 October 2018, the leaders of both countries announced a joint strategy that would provide buses from different parts of the country to facilitate safe passage to the population wishing to return home to Honduras. This joint initiative called "Plan Retorno Seguro" (Safe Return Plan), implemented on 20 October 2018, transported approximately 1,279 beneficiaries back to Honduras, especially from San Marcos department in south-western Guatemala. The intervention also included the implementation of two Honduran Returnee Care Centres at the Honduras-Guatemala border: one in Izabal department and the other in Tecún Umán, Ayutla, San Marcos. Migrants were provided food, care and temporary lodgings prior to being transported back to Tegucigalpa or other locations in Honduras.

Despite the hardships faced by the caravan, the work by various actors is visible along migration routes (please see the Annex for a map of the caravan routes). The care being delivered focuses mainly on providing food, access to safe water, cleaning and hygiene supplies and services, telephone calls, shelter, rest areas and health, among others. However, the large number of people travelling, the deterioration of their health during the trek and the evolution of an emergency with abrupt changes in context makes it difficult to provide comprehensive care along migration routes.

Although it is widely known that not all of those who set off in October 2018 managed to reach their destinations, and that many returned to Honduras or are still stranded somewhere along the way, a new caravan to the US has been organized over social media. This caravan left on 15 January 2019 from San Pedro Sula's Central Park. According to estimates, some 10,000 individuals will join this caravan, including children, pregnant women, older adults, unaccompanied minors, members of the LGBTI community, low-income family units, persons with disabilities, people with chronic illnesses, people with international protection needs, survivors of sexual and/or other types of violence, and groups considered priority for facing double vulnerability during their journey.