Hundreds of Hondurans set off toward US in new caravan

Many migrants when caught, most are processed by the authorities, then released pending a court date, and authorities say they are mostly never seen again as they meld into US society. (AFP)
Updated 15 January 2019

Hundreds of Hondurans set off toward US in new caravan

  • Central American migrant caravans have become a flashpoint in the debate over US immigration policy
  • Between 600 and 800 Hondurans have joined the caravan

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras: Hundreds of Honduran migrants began the long trek north on Monday, part of new US-bound caravan that hopes to succeed even as a previous wave of Central Americans were unable to quickly enter the United States.
Central American migrant caravans have become a flashpoint in the debate over US immigration policy, as President Donald Trump has remained adamant that the migrants will be barred from crossing the border.
Television footage on Monday showed several hundred people in the violent city of San Pedro Sula huddled together and waving Honduran flags as they began a journey that will likely take weeks or even months to reach the US-Mexico border.
Between 600 and 800 Hondurans have joined the caravan, according to an estimate provided by Miroslava Serpas, head of migrant affairs with the CIPRODEH human rights research center that is accompanying the group.
Last October, another migrants caravan left Honduras made up of men, women and children, mostly claiming that they were fleeing entrenched poverty and gangland violence back home.
While some 2,500 people from that caravan remain in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, more than 7,000 have returned to Honduras, according to Honduran officials.
“I’m determined to find a good job in the United States,” said 24-year-old caravan member Darwin Perez.
“It’s a difficult road ahead but I hope President Trump’s heart might soften, and that he won’t be so hard and will let us enter,” he added.
Other migrants, some traveling with spouses and children, echoed Perez’s dream to find work in the United States.
Trump has repeatedly vowed to stop the Central American caravans, sending troops to reinforce the border and describing the migrants as an invading force.


Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

Updated 52 min 55 sec ago

Lampedusa mayor slams Rome over migrant boat standoff

  • “The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The mayor of Italy’s Lampedusa island on Thursday denounced the collapsing government for its failure to deal with migrant rescue boats, as a ship carrying 356 people remained stranded in the Mediterranean.
Mayor Salvatore Martello said the reception center on the tiny isle was already over capacity and would struggle to house migrants currently stuck aboard the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking.
The vessel, run by charities Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, has sought a port for almost two weeks after rescuing four boats of migrants off the Libyan coast between 9 and 12 August.
“It would be difficult because the reception center is saturated,” Martello told AFP.
“The island no longer exists politically. It is just exploited in political clashes in Rome.”
Lampedusa has long been a magnet for African migrants fleeing poverty and conflict.
Thousands have attempted to make the unsafe crossing from Libya in a bid to reach Europe this year, despite efforts to deter them.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been accused of demonizing migrants and leaving them to drown in the sea.
He has repeatedly insisted that rescued migrants can only land in Italy if other EU countries take them in.
Italy’s president on Thursday was holding a second day of talks after the disintegration of the anti-immigrant coalition government, which broke down after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday.
The plight of the migrants aboard the Ocean Viking, which was denied entry by both Italy and Malta, is the latest in a string of migrant boat standoffs with Italian authorities.
The Open Arms rescue ship was allowed to land in Lampedusa on Wednesday, with 83 migrants disembarking, after Italian justice ordered they be brought ashore.
Many of them had spent 19 days on board the ship after being picked up while in difficulty in waters off Libya.
There were initially 147 mainly African migrants on the ship but all minors and some suffering health problems had already disembarked.
A European deal to redistribute them has yet to be implemented.