As of early May, Honduras continued to receive some 100 returned men and women from the United States every day, according to the IOM (5 May). Although no cases of Covid-19 amongst returnees had yet to be detected, IOM reported that it was helping prepare Honduran authorities in the case of an outbreak, including working jointly with the US Agency for International Development on distributing testing kits.
The Honduran government has established locations in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula to house returned migrants from the United States and Mexico as they pass a 14-day period in quarantine. Data from the Consular and Immigration Observatory has revealed that between 1 March and 26 April, 5,822 persons were returned from the United States and Mexico. In addition, on 21 May, UNICEF reported that since early March, at least 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been returned from the USA to Mexico and northern Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras). Over the same period, at least 447 migrant children were returned from Mexico to Guatemala and Honduras. On 10 May, Mexico deported 42 Honduran nationals to Tegucigalpa, where they were placed in quarantine for 14 days. Amongst the returnees, there are two children, two women and 38 men.
UNICEF and other agencies have reported that limited public information about Covid-19 has caused confusion and fear among returnees and the communities they return to across the region. Within certain communities, there are worries that children and families returned from the US and Mexico could be carrying the virus. UNICEF has received reports of communities in Guatemala and Honduras barring physical entry to outside groups or strangers, including returnees, to prevent local transmission of the disease. A centre for returned migrants had to be closed as the local population protested as they feared that they would contract the disease.
The GDP has been unable to determine what if any measures have been taken to protect people in immigration proceedings in Honduras. However, the country has taken some steps in its prisons. On 12 March, when the government announced a state of emergency, all visits to prisons were suspended. In addition, staff and inmates received masks to wear during medical appointments or court hearings. As of mid-May, there had been three confirmed cases of Covid-19 within the country’s prisons and one death related to the disease in the prison of El Pozo. On 19 May, one detainee tested positive in the prison of El Porvenir. Authorities also announced that there would not be any new arrivals until further notice. Subsequently, on 21 May, an investigation revealed a lack of testing and isolation of prisoners who have had contact with sick inmates. 70 inmates shared common areas with the deceased prisoner and yet, very few measures have been taken since. Only 22 tests have reportedly been undertaken in the ‘El Pozo’ and ‘Tamara’ prisons.
- J. Avila, “Prisiones de Honduras: El Reino de la Precariedad, Violencia y Militarismo al Que Llegó la Pandemia,” Gato Encerrado, 21 May 2020, https://gatoencerrado.news/2020/05/21/prisiones-de-honduras-el-reino-de-precariedad-violencia-y-militarismo-al-que-llego-la-pandemia/
- La Vanguardia, “Honduras Decreta Estado de Emergencia en Carcel por Caso Positivo de Covid-19,” 20 May 2020, https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20200520/481295454212/honduras-decreta-estado-de-emergencia-en-carcel-por-caso-positivo-de-covid-19.html
- IOM, “IOM, USAID Deliver 15,000 Covid-19 Tests to Honduras,” 5 May 2020, https://www.iom.int/news/iom-usaid-deliver-15000-covid-19-tests-honduras
- UNICEF, “Covid-19: Dangers Mount for Migrant Children Forcibly Returned to Northern Central America and Mexico During Pandemic,” 21 May 2020, https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/covid-19-dangers-mount-migrant-children-forcibly-returned-northern-central-america
- M. C. C. Aguirre, “Migrantes y Refugiados, Entre los Más Afectados por el Covid-19,” France 24, 5 May 2020, https://www.france24.com/es/20200504-migrantes-refugiados-afectados-covid19-pandemia-coronavirus
- EFE, “México Deporta a 42 Migrantes Hondureños que Harán Cuarentena por Covid-19,” 10 May 2020, https://www.efe.com/efe/america/mexico/mexico-deporta-a-42-migrantes-hondurenos-que-haran-cuarentena-por-covid-19/50000545-4242647#
- Migrants Coming Out of the Temporary Quarantine Centre in Tegucigalpa after having Been Deported From Mexico, (Jorge Cabrera, Reuters, “Migrantes y refugiados, entre los más afectados por el Covid-19,” France 24, 5 May 2020, https://www.france24.com/es/20200504-migrantes-refugiados-afectados-covid19-pandemia-coronavirus)