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Inter-Agency Response: Mixed Movements from the North of Central America (28 February 2019)

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BACKGROUND

While the number of people departing from the North of Central America (NCA) significantly decreased in the first two weeks of February, new rumours of additional groups departing from El Salvador and Honduras were spread. By the middle of the month, numbers of people moving across borders remained below the normal rate of around 300 every day.

Between 16 and 17 February, several groups from Honduras and El Salvador departed towards Guatemala, with over 500 people accumulated in Tecun Uman by the end of the weekend, and additional small groups continuing to arrive. At least half of the group was comprised of families with children, and adolescents without families, from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, and a few extra-continentals. By the end of February, over 13,200 people had crossed into Mexico, with no additional people in Tecun Uman.

Trends as of February 2019 indicate people are no longer moving in large numbers, with smaller groups of between 30 and 50 people being the preferred modality to enter Mexico. This has made it difficult to assess the magnitude of the movement and the needs until the smaller groups accumulate at the GuatemalaMexico border, or cross irregularly into Mexico. This is creating significant operational challenges, as it becomes difficult to predict shelter, food, water and sanitation needs, while xenophobic attitudes continue to rise.

While some groups decided to stay within Mexico, and have been relocated to other cities across the country, small numbers continue to move onwards to Piedras Negras in the hopes of gaining access to the United States of America.

Between January and February 2019, over 15,000 humanitarian visitor cards had been delivered. To the end of February, 7,941 people had sought asylum. The Mexican government has informed people can request information on applications for Humanitarian Visitor Cards at the Mexican embassies in their countries of origin. Shelters at Tecun Uman (Guatemala) and El Palillo (Mexico) have now been dismantled.

In light of these mixed movements of asylum-seekers and migrants, the United Nations system and partners in the field have been deploying teams to the borders to support governments in the countries of origin, transit and destination in responding to the specific needs of these groups, according to the respective mandates.

RESPONSE AT THE FIELD LEVEL

IOM, the International Organization for Migration, is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. As the leading international organization for migration, IOM acts with its partners in the international community to assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration management, advance understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, supports States in providing international protection to asylum-seekers and refugees, those who have fled their countries of origin because their lives are at risk. UNHCR holds periodic discussions with governments, other UN agencies and NGOs at the field level with the aim of facilitating a coordinated response in terms of shelter, humanitarian assistance and basic services, as well as on finding durable solutions to the plight of asylum-seekers and refugees.

UNICEF works with local and national governments and civil society to protect the rights of refugee and migrant children, through addressing the root causes of forced and irregular migration and ensuring the integral protection of the rights of children in transit and destination. UNICEF works in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador where it provides immediate support to children and families in the context of migration and displacement, while also strengthening institutional capacities of different sectors working with this population.

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