Hondurans and Salvadorans who had been transferred to Guatemala have relived the abusive experiences, insecurity and lack of support at the US borer before their transfer.
The Hondurans and Salvadorans disclosed this in an interview with the Refugees International and Human Rights Watch.
An agreement between the United States and Guatemala effectively compels Salvadoran and Honduran asylum seekers to abandon their claims, Human Rights Watch and Refugees International said today.
The joint report by Refugees International and Human Rights Watch, “Deportation with a Layover: Failure of Protection under the U.S.-Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement,” shows that the U.S.-Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement, or ACA, does not meet the criteria in US law for a Safe Third Country Agreement that would enable Salvadorans and Hondurans to seek asylum in a safe country other than the United States.
Under the agreement, the United States has rapidly transferred non-Guatemalan asylum seekers to Guatemala without allowing them to lodge asylum claims in the United States. Given Guatemala’s inability to provide effective protection and the risk that some transferees face the threat of serious harm either in Guatemala or after returning to their home countries, the United States violates its obligation to examine their asylum claims by implementing the agreement, the report says.
Refugees International and Human Rights Watch interviewed 30 Hondurans and Salvadorans who had been transferred to Guatemala. They described abusive conditions at the US border before their transfer, and danger, insecurity, and a lack of support upon arrival in Guatemala that made them feel pressure to return to their home countries despite fear of what they would face there.
“All the transferees we interviewed said the U.S. never gave them an opportunity to seek asylum in the United States or to explain why they fled their home countries,” said Ariana Sawyer, US border researcher at Human Rights Watch and one of the report’s authors.
A Salvadoran man said that a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official told him “there is no asylum” and “there are no Central Americans allowed into the United States.” Two women showed Refugees International evidence of abuse by domestic partners—pictures of physical injuries from brutal beatings and a copy of a protective order from a court in El Salvador—that they said US officials at the border refused to let them present in support of their claims of fear of return there.
Those interviewed said that while detained at the U.S. border before their transfer they were denied meaningful access to an attorney and only allowed to make between one and three rushed, non-private phone calls.
They said that when they arrived in Guatemala, they waited hours on the tarmac with no food, water, or adequate medical attention, including for those with small children. The registration process itself took a cursory two-to-three minutes, during which Guatemalan authorities did not provide any information about what would happen to them in Guatemala. Once transferees were registered at the airport, they had 72 hours to make the decision about whether they would remain in Guatemala, return to the countries they fled, or try to find refuge elsewhere.
“People transferred to Guatemala were thrust into a high-pressure situation in which they lacked adequate time and resources to make truly informed, voluntary choices about what to do,” said Rachel Schmidtke, Latin America advocate for Refugees International and another of the report’s authors.
Those interviewed said they had no family or support networks in Guatemala and that they feared for their safety there because some of the gangs who threatened them had a presence or connections in Guatemala. Many indicated they would return to El Salvador and Honduras despite their fear of persecution there.
“We interviewed people with well-founded fears of persecution who were not allowed to seek asylum in the United States and who believed they could not be protected in Guatemala,” said Yael Schacher, senior U.S. advocate at Refugees International and another of the report’s authors. “The United States has shirked its responsibility and violated its international obligations by transferring people under the ACA.”
Transfers of non-Guatemalans to Guatemala under the agreement were suspended on March 16, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that date, the United States had transferred 939 people to Guatemala. Although local nongovernmental partners for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) found that the vast majority of transferees they interviewed had international protection concerns, only 20, about 2 percent, had applied for asylum in Guatemala.
The U.S. and Guatemalan governments should rescind the Guatemalan agreement, rather than plan for its resumption, Refugees International and Human Rights Watch said. The United States should also halt plans to begin transferring non-national asylum seekers to El Salvador and Honduras under similar agreements.
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.
Germany allows more non-vaccinated third-country citizens to enter for tourism from Sunday, but not Brits
Spain expects to welcome 45 million international tourists this year, despite UK travel restrictions
France: Tourists are now obliged to pay for COVID-19 tests
News6 months ago
Gavi, IOM join forces to improve immunization coverage for migrants
News12 months ago
Lead review of anti-human trafficking strategies in Nigeria- JIFORM tells NAPTIP
News1 year ago
30 migrants killed in Libya
News1 year ago
Europe spends billions stopping migration. Good luck figuring out where the money actually goes
News1 year ago
Germany moves to deport 5th batch of Nigerians amidst Coronavirus challenges
News1 year ago
Trafficked Nigerian girl relives sexual harassment, slavery experience in Oman
News1 year ago
Refugees to the rescue? Germany taps migrant medics to battle virus
News1 year ago
Covid 19: UN in West and Central Africa worry about migrants as traffickers abandon victims in desert