TEGUCIGALPA – Amnesty International presented on Friday a report that assigns much of the blame for a worsening refugee crisis in Central America to the governments of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
“Although countries like Mexico and the U.S. are utterly failing to protect Central American asylum seekers and refugees, it is high time for authorities in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to own up to their role in this crisis and take steps to tackle the problems that force these people to leave home in the first place,” AI says in the report.
The number of Central Americans requesting asylum in the U.S. and Mexico has increased nearly 600 percent in the last five years, AI Secretary General Salil Shetty told a press conference in Tegucigalpa.
Honduras leads the region in that regard, with the ranks of Honduran asylum-seekers expanding by a factor of eight since 2011, he said.
Human rights group say an average of 150 Hondurans leave the country every day to make the long, arduous and often dangerous journey across Mexico to reach the United States.
Central American governments need to curb the violence that is driving so many people to flee, Shetty said, and to assume the responsibility for protecting refugees sent back to their homelands by authorities in the U.S. and Mexico.
Mexican and U.S. authorities have deported more than 50,000 Hondurans in 2016.
Last year, according to UN statistics, El Salvador suffered more than 108 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Honduras with 63.75, and Guatemala, where the murder rate was 34.99 per 100,000 inhabitants.
The global median is just under 10 homicides per 100,000 people.
Since arriving in Honduras on Tuesday, Shetty has met with human rights activists and government officials, but his request for a meeting with President Juan Orlando Hernandez was not granted.