UNITED NATIONS, Oct 23 (APP):More than 7,000 Central-American refugees are now marching through Mexico towards the southern border of the United States in search of safety and work, the United Nations has said, while calling on all countries involved to liaise with its key agencies on the ground providing support.
“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that large numbers of people are arriving in Mexico and are likely to remain in the country for an extended period,” UN deputy spokesman Farhan Aziz Haq said, urging that they be treated with “respect and dignity”.
“At this time, it is estimated that the caravan comprises some 7,233 persons, many of whom intend to continue the march north.”
Farhan Haq said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had spoken to several leaders about the situation over the weekend and planned to travel to Washington on Tuesday for talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“This situation needs to be dealt with in line with international law and with full respect for countries’ right to manage their own borders,” he said.
“The states in the region need to cooperate on resolving the situation.”
Earlier Monday, US President Donald Trump said the United States would begin cutting aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador because they had failed to stop the movement of migrants.
Farhan Haq said the UN High Commission on Refugees has mobilized to help the migrants, and that the governments involved had been urged to work with the IOM and UNHCR.
The UNHCR has deployed an emergency team in southern Mexico, and now has 32 people on the ground on the border, in Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula, according to the spokesman.
“Numbers will increase in the coming days to address and ensure adequate provision of information on the asylum system to members of the caravan, as well as legal advice and humanitarian assistance to those who seek asylum,” he said.
According to media reports, what started as a small group of under 200 just a few days ago, has grown considerably. Farhan Haq told journalists that “it is estimated that the caravan comprises some 7,233 persons, many of whom intend to continue the march north.”
Earlier this week, a UN rights expert urged Member States not to prioritize security concerns over the basic human rights of migrants and refugees.