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Oxfam strongly condemns the intimidation and increasingly severe human rights abuses and violations committed by Guatemalan and Mexican police against people who have been forced to migrate from Central America toward the United States.
“Guatemalan and Mexican authorities are intentionally hampering the free and safe passage of migrants, putting their lives in danger. The police have blocked highways, they have launched tear gas, and yesterday the Mexican federal police used a helicopter to intimidate families carrying young children who were crossing the Suchiate river. All of this is in addition to the repeated threats that they will close and militarize the borders,” says Asier Hernando, Oxfam’s Deputy Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Oxfam calls on the governments of Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States to comply with their obligation to protect and guarantee the human rights of all migrants, to respect and guarantee the principles of family unity, to prohibit the denial of entry at borders, to uphold the right to non-refoulement, and to prohibit collective expulsions.
Oxfam also urgently appeals to the authorities of these transit and destination countries to refrain from stigmatizing and criminalizing migrants. All people whose life or liberty is in danger have the right to seek and request asylum in foreign territories. Finally, Oxfam calls on these government authorities to collaborate and coordinate with humanitarian relief agencies.
Notes to editors
In Guatemala, Oxfam and its local partners have distributed 5,250 personal hygiene kits, 560 children’s food packages, and installed 20 portable toilets, showers, drinking water points, and 50 canopies to protect families from the blazing sun. All the hygiene kits come with information about how to report acts of violence and human-trafficking. Oxfam has also provided industrial stoves, cooking utensils, water filters, and 1,000 mattresses for the shelters that receive migrants.
In Mexico, Oxfam is coordinating with other organizations to provide assistance to migrants at specific locations in Chiapas and Oaxaca. Oxfam is also preparing to provide assistance for migrants upon their arrival in Mexico City. To date, Oxfam Mexico has worked with Cántaro Azul and the municipality of Tapanatepec to distribute 4,500 liters of water, in addition to thermoses, pots of Vaseline for sore feet, and oral rehydration salts. Oxfam also plans to install 30 portable toilets in Oaxaca.
On October 13, approximately 1,000 people set off from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, headed for the United States. Estimates suggest that some 7,000 people, mainly from Honduras, are walking to the southern border of the United States, with thousands still stranded in precarious conditions on the Guatemala-Mexico border. Each day, more people continue to arrive at the border from Honduras and other Central American countries, which is worsening the situation.
The migrants include entire families with children and elderly people. They have walked in in extremely precarious and unsafe conditions, with little to no access to food, water, health services or medicine, nor adequate shelters. At nightfall, they sleep on pavements, some lying only on cardboard and covered with just thin plastic sheets to protect themselves from the rain and cold; others lack even that protection.
This forced and mass displacement began because of the growing difficulties people face in Honduras and throughout the region due to extreme inequality, generalized violence, poverty, food insecurity (aggravated by the effects of climate change) and the lack of opportunity to build a life with dignity. The poor are the hardest hit.