Accessibility links

Breaking News
USA

UN: Countries Must Allow People at Risk to Request Asylum


Members of a US-bound migrant caravan rest on a road between the Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca after federal police briefly blocked them outside the town of Arriaga, Oct. 27, 2018.

The U.N. refugee agency is urging nations to allow people fleeing persecution and violence, including those who are traveling with the Central American caravan, to request asylum on their territory.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to prevent a caravan of thousands of immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador from entering the United States. He is sending hundreds of troops to the border in what is described as a support role.

The U.N. refugee agency will not weigh in on whether it is legal for a country to close its borders to refugees and asylum-seekers. But it says international law clearly states any person whose life may be in danger has the right to seek asylum and benefit from international protection.

A migrant caravan cross a bridge between the Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca after federal police briefly blocked them outside the town of Arriaga, Oct. 27, 2018.
A migrant caravan cross a bridge between the Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca after federal police briefly blocked them outside the town of Arriaga, Oct. 27, 2018.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic told VOA his agency has alerted countries along the caravan's route that it is likely to include people in real danger.

"Our position globally is that the individuals who are fleeing persecution and violence need to be given access to territory and protection including refugee status and determination procedure. And, if the people who are fleeing persecution and violence enter Mexico, they need to be provided access to the Mexican asylum system and those entering the United States need to be provided access to the American asylum system," he said.

Mahecic said the UNHCR is very concerned about the developing humanitarian situation along the migratory route. He said there are kidnapping and security risks in the areas where the caravan may be venturing.

A wall of police in riot gear blocks the highway to stop a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants from advancing, outside Arriaga, Chiapas state, Mexico, Oct. 27, 2018.
A wall of police in riot gear blocks the highway to stop a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants from advancing, outside Arriaga, Chiapas state, Mexico, Oct. 27, 2018.

He said it is urgent to stabilize the situation, to provide proper reception and to improve basic conditions for people on the move. In regard to people seeking asylum, he says their international protection needs must be properly assessed before any decision is taken on their return or deportation.

The Mexican Ministry of the Interior reports more than 1,740 asylum claims have been registered in Tapachula in the state of Chiapas.

XS
SM
MD
LG