A group of approximately 40 migrants is waiting for food. Many of them keep coming, arriving in pairs or in small groups, some even travel with their families. They must register first, but they are exhausted. “Some water, please” can be heard in the hallway. The temperature at the “Agua Caliente” border exceeds 29 degrees Celsius.
We are at the Migrant Shelter San José, located in the township of Esquipulas, which is the first resting place in Guatemala for those who cross the boarder at that point to reach their destination, “The North”. “It’s quiet right now, but sometimes we have over 200 people,” says Ana*, who is in charge of the kitchen. While she checks that everyone has food, four young migrants help her.
As the hours pass by, the amount of people increases. And by dinner time, they are over 150. “Water, food and a place to sleep” is what most people are looking for in this place. The Shelter also provides them with medical assistance, psychosocial care, and immigration guidance. Most spend a night at the hostel and then carry on with their journey. While migrants continue to arrive, the entrance gets filled with beans, sugar, pure water, juices, cookies, rice, eggs, and enough basic supplies to last a month. That food is part of CARE Guatemala’s humanitarian response to the migration crisis in Central America.
“Every day we’re in need of something here, but we hope to have enough to take care of them”. The situation is the same in Izabal, San Marcos, Petén, Guatemala City, and throughout the migratory route, where Human Mobility Pastoral has Migrant Shelters.
Even if the flux if migrants may vary, they have similar needs, and their numbers seem to increase. In 2021, official records documented the arrival of 1.7 million people to the Mexican border.