An agreement authorizing the United States to send asylum-seekers at the Southern border to El Salvador would put thousands needing protection in harm’s way, said the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

The “cooperative asylum agreement” would send thousands of asylum-seekers from the US-Mexico border to El Salvador, a country with levels of violence akin to those of war zones like Syria - all while thousands of Salvadorans flee these conditions for the United States.

Around 300,000 Salvadorans a year are internally-displaced; last year one woman was murdered every 20 hours. The IRC’s team in El Salvador works with families impacted by some of the world’s highest levels of gang violence, gender-based violence, poverty and conflict.

Meghan Lopez, Country Director for El Salvador at the International Rescue Committee said:

“The U.S. administration is attempting once more to turn its back on extremely vulnerable people. This is in contravention of America’s laws, interests and values.”

“El Salvador is not safe for many of its own nationals and is struggling to meet their needs, which is why many seek asylum in the United States. It is unrealistic to expect El Salvador to be able to offer protection to asylum-seekers fleeing conditions comparable to those in El Salvador.”

“It seems El Salvador was put in an impossible position: accept this deal or remain without foreign aid. The Trump Administration should refocus its attention from preventing protection for vulnerable people to stabilizing the region, and re-examining its misguided decision to cut aid to the Northern Triangle especially if it expects these countries to be part of the solution.”

The IRC is working in El Salvador to support the basic needs of Salvadorans affected by violence by delivering Cué, an interactive digital information platform that provides trustworthy, up-to-date information and strengthens coordination between around 120 service providers and government institutions, providing cash and other emergency assistance to the most vulnerable, and working with local partners to improve the quality of their services.