US pledges aid for Central America, to address migration

US Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to meet with community groups in Guatemala on Tuesday, a day after the US announced economic and other initiatives to assist Guatemala and its neighbors in slowing unregulated migration, Voice of America reported. 

According to Harris' office, the virtual roundtable session on Tuesday will "highlight the importance of putting the Guatemalan people at the center of solutions to root causes of migration."

During talks with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday, she said that she was "eager to hear their thoughts" and that the people of the country "must be at the core of all we do."

A rise in the number of migrants traveling from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to the United States has prompted President Joe Biden to charge Harris with working with the governments of the three nations, as well as Mexico, to resolve the reasons driving people to leave their homes.

According to a World Food Program study released earlier this year, the number of people facing hunger in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras has risen to 7.8 million as a result of many hurricanes and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

A $310 million US program announced Monday will work to resolve food insecurity in the region as well as provide other critical humanitarian assistance.

Aid to farmers, food and literacy initiatives for schoolchildren, disaster relief services, and addressing the safety and welfare of refugees, asylum seekers, and those displaced within their own country are all part of the initiative.

According to Harris, the US initiative is motivated by a duty to communicate with its regional neighbors as well as a willingness to “bring hope to the people of Guatemala that there will be an opportunity for them if they remain at home.”

Giammattei stated that his government is committed to the same aim.

“Creating hope through the consolidation of prosperity walls where people can find opportunities to step ahead and, therefore, not need to go abroad to the United States is the path that should be our goal,” he said.

The two countries have agreed on a proposal for the US Department of Homeland Security to send a group of employees to Guatemala to train members of a border protection task force.

The US will also assist with relief services and the building of shelters for refugees who are returning to Guatemala.

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