New York, NY, October 26, 2018 — In response to the Caravan of asylum-seekers traveling north from Central America, and threats to close the US Southern border for those who wish to apply for asylum, the IRC’s Vice President for US Programs Hans van de Weerd said:
“The IRC is concerned about yet another ill-advised attack on the system to protect refugees and asylum-seekers in the United States.
"The IRC calls on the Administration to follow a humanitarian approach to incoming asylum-seekers, not a blanket ban based on nationality or race. Any response must uphold international and U.S. laws which mandate that unfettered application for asylum must be allowed.
"Additionally, the United States must provide funding for humanitarian aid along dangerous migration routes and it must support Central American countries’ efforts to reduce violence – the core reason people are fleeing north.
"Threats of pulling aid only undermine U.S. allies who are in a position to address the root cause, not the symptoms, of this crisis.
"Contrary to the Administration's claims, and based on the IRC's experience in the region, the fears of persecution among those fleeing Central America are very real: Current levels of violence in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) are akin to those in the deadliest war zones around the world and continue to increase. The danger does not end with fleeing their home; they must also overcome the extremely dangerous path north fraught with gang violence similar to the areas they are fleeing, gender-based violence targeting women, girls, and the LGTBQ community, and risk of human trafficking of children, teens, and women.
"Women and girls are specific targets of violence in the region, with gender-based violence leveraged as a method to control families via threats, punishments, and extortion. In 2016, El Salvador and Honduras were two of the top 10 countries outside of armed conflict with the highest murder rates of women in the world. In 2017, more than nine women and girls were killed every single week in El Salvador with a total of 469 femicides that year. Overall, there is an average of 10.8 total homicides per day in El Salvador, a figure that does not account for disappearances of those presumed dead."