Social Issues

NGO collaboration crucial for migrant support in El Salvador

La Unión/Osicala, El Salvador, Nov 29 (EFE).- Collaboration among various non-governmental organizations is essential in providing humanitarian assistance to migrants transiting through El Salvador, primarily heading towards the United States, as part of their journey to the northern continent.

A significant initiative in El Salvador includes a project driven by Oxfam and funded by the European Union’s General Directorate for Humanitarian Aid (DG ECHO). Non-governmental entities PROVIDA and Fundación Campo are also involved in this effort.

This project offers humanitarian assistance and gathers information on migration flows stored in the Forced Migration Observatory. The data aims to strengthen and empower all networks, agencies, and organizations involved in the response, care, and protection mechanism.

Gersón Ramírez, a young member of Fundación Campo, was part of a four-person team that interviewed transiting migrants to understand their migration motives.

“We managed to identify a considerable influx of migrants from South and Central America,” Ramírez told EFE. This migration is driven by poverty, inequality, political situations in their countries, and crime.

In 2023, more than 6,400 transiting or returned migrants have been registered at monitoring points in El Salvador, according to the Forced Migration Observatory data.

El Salvador: A Refuge and Passage for Migrants

In La Unión department, approximately 207 kilometers from San Salvador, a dock serves as a landing point for boats, primarily carrying Nicaraguans and Hondurans. These migrants often stock up on food and other supplies on Salvadoran soil before returning to their countries.

However, these boats are also used by nationals of neighboring countries on their migratory journey northward.

Melvin, a boat operator with about nine years of experience, shared with EFE that some of these citizens opt for temporary jobs in La Unión to “save a couple of bucks” before continuing their journey.

Sometimes, he also transports migrants in his boat, then takes them to a bus terminal to “continue their journey.”

Some migrants receive medical assistance, food, and accommodation at the Migrant Persons Attention Center in La Unión, a “space of hope” with a capacity for about 250 people.

Karla Portillo, the center’s administrator, explained to EFE that the center “operates based on a network with which we work together and for the benefit of migrants, in conjunction with the municipality and with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and cooperators.”

The Right to Migrate

The El Amatillo border, located in the Pasaquina municipality in La Unión, connects El Salvador with Honduras. It is a common route used by Central American migrants, especially Nicaraguans and Hondurans.

Prudencio Ramírez, from the National Civil Police (PNC), told EFE that “everyone has the right to migrate,” but “many of them make wrong decisions, leading to regrettable situations,” he said.

The passage through this area for Central Americans is completely free, he explains, “as they can cross just with their passport or identity document.” However, he noted that Colombian or Venezuelan migrants “choose blind spots to avoid crossing the border because they lack legal documentation.”

The Police’s role at this border “is not to detain any migrant,” but “when we identify someone directing them, especially in large groups, we proceed (to apprehend) for possible human trafficking, activating a protocol to provide humanitarian assistance,” he warns.

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