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Confronting the Central American Refugee Crisis

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They can't stay and they have nowhere to go. Forced out by poverty and the threat of imminent death in their countries, extorted by organized crime, kidnapped and executed in the transit countries and deported if they make it to their destination.

We must urgently apply international protocols that define this situation as a serious crisis and declare this population on the move as a population of victims of extreme violence and therefore as refugees, subject to international protection.

Since the last three months of 2013, reports from the field announced that something different was happening in Central American migrant flows en route through Mexico. The premonition became a substantial increase in the traffic on the migratory routes noticeable beginning in February of this year and swelled to a veritable avalanche in the months of April and May and so far in June.

Not only is there an increase in the volume of persons; there's also a qualitative change in the attitude of the migrants. You can see a real state of emergency that shuts out consideration of the enormous danger and the physical and personal sacrifice that the journey through Mexico implies. This is a population pushed by desperation, without caring about the consequences or the tragedies.

They have no choice but to flee.

The general intensification of violence in the region can be illustrated by the title granted the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula-"the most violent city in the world". This gives an idea of the levels of violence that affect daily life for Central American families.

Children are the preferred target of the gangs that operate drug and extortion rings, not only in the most important cities of Honduras like Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, but also in surrounding metropolitan areas. Honduras now seems to be the country most affected, but the whole region shows a similar reality.

The violence comes from organized crime and goes hand in hand with state violence. Fed by the lack of opportunities for employment, health, education and basic needs for living, and a context of total impunity in which crime victims cannot report crimes because, according to hundreds of testimonies, many have been executed after reporting due to the complicity of government officials with organized crime.    
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