Faith leaders say poverty, violence is behind migrant caravans

Faith leaders say the thousands of people in migrant caravans travelling through central America from Honduras are leaving their homes under duress.

Many caravan members say they cannot make ends meet in their home countries due to low wages, extortion or unemployment, says Nathanael Bacon, a Catholic deacon who lives in Guatemala.

The faith leaders are calling on US President Donald Trump and other US officials to stop using the caravan as a political pawn.

They want to ensure due process for asylum seekers and treat all migrants with respect.

They also say the current US trade policy, land reform and non-military aid solutions need examination.

“Nobody wants to leave their homeland. Nobody wants to leave their culture. Nobody wants to leave their family. It’s something they’re forced to do,” says Daniel St. Laurent who serves the chaplain at the Juticalpa Campus of the Catholic University of Honduras.

If Central Americans are to be able to remain in their home country, faith leaders say the US needs to recognise how it has contributed to instability, violence and poverty in the region and take steps to address those root causes of migration.

“As a country, we should be much more compassionate but also smarter,” said Bacon, who works with InnerCHANGE, an ecumenical Christian order that cares for the poor.

“We’re so uncreative, building up systems that only benefit security firms, the apparatus in the detention centres. If we could reinvest that in a way that’s creative and compassionate, we might be able to reduce the number of folks that are forced to migrate.”


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