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  • A man runs from approaching tear gas at the customs checkpoint in the Honduran town of Corinto, which borders with Guatemala, as a migrant caravan travels from Honduras towards the U.S., January 15, 2020

    A man runs from approaching tear gas at the customs checkpoint in the Honduran town of Corinto, which borders with Guatemala, as a migrant caravan travels from Honduras towards the U.S., January 15, 2020 | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 January 2020

According to teleSUR’s correspondent Gilda Silvestrucci, thousands of Hondurans make up this first caravan since April 2019, which includes young people, women, and many children. 

Hundreds of Honduran migrants that joined the caravan heading to the United States were repressed Wednesday by security forces in the town of Corinto while managing to cross the border with Guatemala.

RELATED:
Honduras: Hundreds Join Caravan Heading to the United States

According to teleSUR’s correspondent Gilda Silvestrucci, thousands of Hondurans make up this first caravan since April 2019, which includes young people, women, and many children. 

People claim that they seek to leave the country to escape violence and threats to their lives in their respective communities, as well as the need for a better life for their families, Silvestrucci reported. 

On Wednesday, Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard warned the Guatemalan government that the caravan would not be allowed to enter Mexico, new Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said.

The first caravan of 2020 left from San Pedro Sula to Guatemala on Tuesday night. Convened through social networks, migrants are joining by the hundreds, around 1,500 gathered at the rally point before departing.

"I don't get a job anywhere. There are no opportunities. I leave my two children and my mother behind," a 30-year-old Honduran said.

Urgent. In Corinto, on the border between Honduras and Guatemala, repression began against the migrant caravan.
 

More than 20,000 Hondurans have joined caravans in the last 15 months. According to the authorities of this Central American nation, most of those people have already been deported or returned voluntarily to the country. 

However, 4,587 Hondurans are still in Mexico waiting for the U.S. to respond to their asylum request.

This comes as U.S. President Donald Trump, who demanded help from Mexico and Central America to stem the flow of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., pressured El Salvador (Sept. 20), Guatemala (July 26), and Honduras (Sept. 25) to sign safe-third country type-deals, threatening them with sanctions and to cut off aid.

Under this sort of agreement, Trump’s administration is enforcing a new rule that would curtail asylum applications at the U.S.-Mexico border, requiring migrants to first attempt international protection in a safe third country.

The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf confirmed that the implementation of that agreement will begin soon. The U.S. informed Honduras that it will send several agents soon to support border security. 

And they advance. Protecting children, there are many. Their destination is the United States, there are many, thousands of Hondurans.
 

While the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said it was “deeply concerned” as the rule would “put vulnerable families at risk” and undermine international efforts to find a coordinated solution, as most of the asylum seekers are escaping political persecution, gang, and drug-related violence. 

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which is a binding document for all the United Nations members, a country like the U.S. can refuse to grant refuge to asylum seekers and send them to a country that is considered "safe" to their lives. Canada struck a pact of those characteristics back in 2002.

Thus with the new arrangments pushed by Trump, the North American nation can now shift the burden onto other countries like Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala or Mexico, as asylum hearings can take months or even years. 

Human rights organizations, Democrats and pro-migrant groups argue that sending people seeking asylum back to the region where they fled, even if not to their home country, violates international commitments meant to prevent vulnerable migrants from being returned to danger.

Honduras had a homicide rate of 40 per 100,000 people in 2017, while Guatemala's was 22.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the Western Hemisphere, according to InSight Crime.

Even the U.S. government admits the dangers present in those countries. The State Department's travel advisory for Guatemala reads the country “remains among the most dangerous countries in the world,” with an “alarmingly high murder rate.”

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