Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World today urged the administration and Congress to continue financial assistance to Central America’s Northern Triangle—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The organization says that cutting aid would exacerbate the hunger and violence that force people to flee their homes and thus increase migration. Bread for the World’s president, Rev. David Beckmann, recently visited Guatemala.
“I traveled to the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala, where the number of emigrants per capita is higher than anywhere else in Central America. The drought-affected region has expanded, and farm families have been left with virtually nothing to eat. In this desperate situation, U.S. food aid is clearly moderating the pressure to migrate,” Beckmann said.
“USAID programs also strengthen the capacity of the police and courts to deal with gang violence. Throughout Guatemala, nongovernmental organizations are improving nutrition and job opportunities.”
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, hunger is one of the primary reasons that families from Central America flee their home countries. Nearly half of Guatemala’s children are chronically malnourished. Malnutrition kills many young children and causes irreversible damage to those who survive, including lifelong health problems, difficulty learning in school, and stunted physical development.
In Guatemala, where USAID-funded agriculture programs have been implemented, there has been a 15 percent decrease in poverty and a 12 percent decrease in stunting among children under 5.
“U.S. government assistance allows many desperate parents who are trying to give their children a better future to stay close to family and friends and contribute to their communities rather than fleeing to the United States,” Beckmann said. “It is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.”