Guatemala + 3 more

Guatemala: Population Movement (MDRGT016) DREF Operation Update no.1

Situation Report
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A. Situation Analysis

Description of the disaster

A massive population movement, known as ‘caravan’, began their journey in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on 14 January 2020. These migration flows have been occurring in the Northern Triangle of Central America since 13 October 2018, when the first caravan of 8,500 people from Honduras caused a humanitarian crisis at the border between Guatemala and Mexico.

Around 2,000 people, including men, women, pregnant women, children, and members of the LGTBIQ community left San Pedro Sula on 14 January 2020. On 15 January, The Guatemalan Migration Institute registered 662 people entering the country at the border of Corinto, Izabal, and 1,612 people entering at the border of Agua Caliente, Chiquimula, both located on the northeast of Guatemala. During the following days, the number of migrants crossing the country increased to an estimated amount of 4,000 people, according to Guatemalan migration authorities.

This caravan has turned Guatemala once again into a country with a high number of transit migrants. Migrants are using two main routes: one that starts at the Agua Caliente border in Chiquimula, crossing Guatemala City, and ending at the south border of Guatemala and Mexico in the city of Tecún Umán, municipality of Ayutla, San Marcos, alongside the CA-2 highway; and the other, starting at the Corinto border in the department of Izabal, continuing along the PET-15 highway, Km. 243, towards the municipality of Santa Elena, Petén, and ending at the border of Técnica and El Ceibo (Petén-Guatemala- Tenosique-Mexico).

Migrants are traveling through Guatemala on foot or by bus, using mainly the ‘Casa del Migrante’ shelters to rest during their long journey along the route.

The Guatemalan State allows migrants to carry out customs procedures in compliance with the Central America-4 Border Control Agreement -4. However, migrants who fail to comply with these procedures started to be deported as of 16 January. Since 17 January, a significant decrease of migrant movement has been reported along the route between Honduras and Guatemala, even though the border areas at northern Guatemala and Mexico have been busier than in previous mass movements. Moreover, the highest number of migrants have been seen at the southern border of Guatemala and Mexico, approximately 2,500 people in Tecun Umán, Ayutla and San Marcos. This crossing border has a temporary shelter ran by several civil society organizations, but the shelter’s poor conditions result in an increase of migrants’ vulnerability and basic needs which are not being met.2 Given the arrival of the COVID-19 outbreak situation in the Americas, migrant control has been reinforced in all borders. The government restrictions implemented after the first COVID-19 case (5 March) have resulted in the closing of many migrant shelters or in more strict health measures in those shelters that are still open. This has forced many migrants to use other migration routes which are not appropriate for their journey towards Mexico and the United Sates.