Tecún Umán, Guatemala, May 2020 – Faced with the challenges of the complex phenomenon of migration in these times of emergency, the need for a specific service to migrants, refugees, displaced persons, and people stranded in the face of this health crisis is reflected.
Casa del Migrante
The Casa del Migrante, due to the state of Calamity that the country is experiencing and because of the provisions it takes to safeguard the health of migrants and workers, it has determined to make a short tour around the shelter and various points of the city to identify families from different countries who have stayed in this place for several days without finding work or how to return. Given this situation, we have currently identified 11 families (Honduran and Salvadoran) with an average of 5 members per family, including minors. We have supported them with a bag containing essential items that may partially alleviate the needs they have.
Migrant Assistance Office
On April 12, knowing that several Guatemalan citizens were at the Rodolfo Robles International Bridge because of discrimination by a certain group of the population that demanded that the authorities not allow them to enter the country because they considered that they could be infected with COVID-19, we went to the place and in coordination with Mr. Consul Noel Vásquez accredited in Hidalgo city, we provided rations of juices and cookies to 28 migrants, who then went to Cobán Alta Verapaz after spending a night in said customs.
On Monday, May 11, knowing that two buses from Mexico would enter at 5:54 am, we coordinated the delivery of individual rations containing 500 ml rehydrating serums, integral cookies, juices, incaparina, toilet paper, and sheets/blankets to a group of 46 Guatemalan migrants. We added blankets to the bag because we had knowledge through a publication on social media by a migrant that in the health care center that the government improvised in the city of Coatepeque of the department of Quetzaltenango (Coatexpo), the migrants were spending the night without sheets and/or blankets.
On May 14, we coordinated the support for 18 migrants from the Siglo XXI station in the city of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico. They were given individual rations and sheets/ blankets. The bus lines would take them to the city of Quetzaltenango to the “Atancio Tzul” medical and quarantine care center.
We have provided free internet for migrants since we already have this service, and we have verified that during their stay (45 minutes approx.), they have managed to carry out some type of communication (messages).
Pastoral Office of Human Mobility
In the Annual Operational Plan of the Casa del Migrante and the Pastoral de Movilidad Humana, Diocese of San Marcos, work areas are considered as lines of pastoral action. One of the areas is training, information and awareness area, within this area radio programs are covered, television and training workshops. At the moment the training workshops are temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently and permanently, radio programs are broadcast on Radio La Voz de la Buena Nueva every Friday, from 10:00 to 11:00, this radio is Catholic and Diocesan, the topics shared in this radio are human rights and migration, political, economic and social situation, international treaties related to migrants, the pilgrim people and the pastoral challenges of the Church, the conflict in the border areas and their consequences on migration, deportations by air and land, physical and ideological borders, family remittances, and during this global emergency, issues related to non-discrimination of migrants in transit and deported are also shared.
The Pastoral of Human Mobility, to date, does not have a permanent television program, they are temporary or spontaneous programs. The topics shared are human rights and migration, political, economic and social situation, the migratory reality in Guatemala, restrictive policies in the face of the migratory phenomenon, administration of family remittances, solidarity with the migrant population and during this world emergency, they share issues related to non-discrimination of migrants in transit and deportees. The programs are shared specifically on channel 2 of the Comitancillo municipality and the San Sebastián Chanel in the San Marcos department.
After more than twenty-five years of pastoral action in Guatemala, we can affirm that the presence of the Casa del Migrante in Tecún Umán, under the leadership of the Scalabrinian Missionaries, has healed many wounds of our vulnerable Guatemalan brothers and sisters and other nationalities, through Humanitarian Assistance (legal advice, psychological/spiritual care, health and dental services.)
We want to continue serving in this time of health crisis (COVID-19) because in addition to the fact that the migrant is seen with contempt, they mistreat him and some do not have access to health, on the way they also point him out as a criminal and therefore he does not find a safe place where he is offered the support he needs to rest and start his journey again in search of the goal he has set for himself.
Fr. Yosef Albertman Sadipun, cs
Director of Casa del Migrante de Tecún Umán