SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Hundreds of Hondurans devastated by recent hurricanes have been stopped as they tried to walk towards the United States in the latest attempt at a migrant caravan.
Roughly 600 men, women and children tried to walk from the northern city of San Pedro Sula toward the border with Guatemala. But on Thursday they were stopped by Honduran security personnel, who demanded they show papers and coronavirus tests.
Hundreds of thousands of Hondurans remain homeless after the November hurricanes. There are concerns about safety at some of the shelters and the potential of rapid coronavirus spread.
Last week, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández asked for U.S. help, warning that food shortages as a result of crop loss caused by Hurricanes Eta and Iota could spur more migration to the U.S.
Aid agencies report nearly 7 million people between southern Mexico and Colombia are in need of assistance following the catastrophic storms, according to NPR.
Hurricanes Eta and Iota both came ashore as dangerous Category 4 storms on November 3 and November 17 respectively, making landfall in roughly the same region along the border between Nicaragua and Honduras.
"Hurricane Eta affected almost all of Central America, including Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Nicaragua," Steve McAndrew, deputy regional director, for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told NPR. "And then the second hurricane Iota also had a direct hit on the San Andreas Islands, which are part of Colombia. There's heavy damage and the region's been heavily affected."
The region continues to dig out from mudslides. It appears Honduras took the brunt of the storms as they came ashore and slowed down, with more damage and more deaths than Nicaragua.
Mudslides in both countries destroyed basic infrastructure like roads, bridges, health clinics and schools; families lost their homes, farms and businesses.