Responding to the Migrant Caravans

On October 28th and 31st, hundreds of Salvadorans left San Salvador in caravans headed towards the Southern US border. The news cycle lately has been dominated by the recent surge of Central American migrant caravans and the hardships they face, yet little has been mentioned to highlight the efforts taking place on the ground, in these countries to address the displacement problem. Contrary to the rhetoric of the US Administration, there are existing international and national legal tools and frameworks that could and should be activated to help prevent people from being forced to migrate and protect those already displaced. 

Cristosal has been working in El Salvador to push forward legislation that recognizes internal displacement and implements measures to protect the victims of displacement. From 2017 to 2018, Cristosal filed six amparos (a complaint process used to denounce violations of constitutionally ensured rights) with the Supreme Court, representing six displaced families and individuals. Thanks to these amparos, Cristosal won a Supreme Court ruling in July of this year. The ruling, known in El Salvador as Amparo 411, gives the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador six months to adopt measures to protect the victims of forced displacement. To follow up on this success, Cristosal proposed a law on internally displaced people, that is currently under review.

This week, Cristosal welcomes Dr. Elizabeth Ferris, an expert on internal displacement, to El Salvador. She is here to provide her expertise as Cristosal works to build a national consensus on the importance of a comprehensive State response and legal framework for internal displacement. Next week, Cristosal is publicly launching a report on children and internal displacement in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala that was presented in October in a special hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Cristosal knows that in order to address the issue of displacement, the systematic documentation of accurate data is indispensable.

As we contemplate the Central American caravans headed towards the US, it is important to bear in mind the necessary and historic changes that NGOs, government officials, academics, and religious leaders are promoting in the Northern Triangle of Central America. As an organization, Cristosal knows that strengthening the Salvadoran State’s capacity to protect the rights of its citizens, is one key way to address the root causes of irregular migration and promote improved citizen security.

In a forum held at the Legislative Assembly with Elizabeth Ferris on October 29th, Cristosal's Armando de Paz closed the session with this important request: as we debate a law on internal forced displacement in El Salvador, think about all of the victims currently displaced and how they are affected each day that passes without adequate measures in place to ensure their protection.

San Salvador, October 31, 2018. 

A family leaves with the second caravan.

A family leaves with the second caravan.

We at Cristosal cannot than you enough for all of the support you have shown our organization. Please feel free to share this update on our work with friends and family.

Paulina P