More than 130 Salvadorans have been killed after being deported from the United States since 2013, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday, as it stressed the danger migrants face under the Trump administration’s hardening immigration policy.
In a report titled “Deported to Danger,” the group said it had documented 138 cases of Salvadorans who had been killed after deportation. The number was likely much higher but there are no official figures, it said.
HRW also found more than 70 cases of deported Salvadorans who suffered sexual violence, torture or other harm, or who disappeared.
President Donald Trump has toughened U.S. immigration policy to make it difficult for Central Americans to seek asylum, forcing thousands to wait in Mexico as their cases are decided. The issue promises to be a cornerstone of his re-election campaign.
“As asylum and immigration policies tighten in the United States and dire security problems continue in El Salvador, the U.S. is repeatedly violating its obligations to protect Salvadorans from return to serious risk of harm,” HRW wrote.
The report placed blame on Salvadoran gangs for targeting deportees and the Salvadoran government for failing to protect them. It also accused the United States of “putting Salvadorans in harm’s way in circumstances where it knows or should know that harm is likely.”
A statement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said “the U.S. is a country of laws” but did not directly address the allegations in the Human Rights Watch report.
“If you arrive at our borders you will wait in Mexico until the completion of your immigration court proceedings. If you do not have a legal case to be in the U.S. you will either be granted the opportunity for asylum in another country or quickly returned to your home country,” the statement said.
In the report, HRW said it established a connection in many cases between the reasons Salvadorans had fled their country and the ultimate causes of their deaths.
The report cites the case of Camila Diaz Cordova, a 29-year-old transgender person who applied for asylum in the United States in August 2017 to escape death threats and extortion by multinational gang Barrio 18.
After her deportation in November 2017, she returned to sex work in San Salvador, the capital, where she was kidnapped and beaten to death by the police, according to a close friend of Diaz Cordova and Salvador’s attorney general.
“By losing her bid for asylum or refuge in the United States, or anywhere else, the risk she faced was exactly that: being killed,” the friend of Diaz Cordova said in an interview.
Many other deported migrants say their lives are in danger back home.
Luis, 41, worked nearly two decades in California until he was deported in 2015 after failing to appear for an immigration hearing. Luis, who did not wish to use his full name due to fear of reprisals, found work as a bus driver on the outskirts of San Salvador but was perceived as an outsider and a threat by local gangs.
Gang members shot at him and a bullet struck the bus once, though Luis escaped unscathed.
“They said if they saw me again, they would take me out,” Luis told Reuters. The threats have subsided since he began making payments to gangs to be able to drive through their territory, he said.
IOM launches open South America portal
Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Open South America, available in Spanish, English and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.
The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.
The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.
Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.
“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.
“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.
29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM
The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.
About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.
Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.
He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.
Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.
“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”
Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.
“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.
Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.
The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.
FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK
The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.
Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.
Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.
Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.
“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.
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