Start from scratch in Honduras after a failed migration

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) helps dozens of returnees set up a business


Migrating is not an easy decision, nor is it a return when conditions are not as expected. More than 95,000 Hondurans have opted for the return to Honduras in the first ten months of 2019, an unprecedented figure that hides stories of people to whom the International Organization for Migration (IOM) tries to lend a hand.

Start from scratch in Honduras after a failed migration
Start from scratch in Honduras after a failed migration

Marcia Berónica Elvir returned from Mexico to her hometown, Catacamas, in the province of Olancho, with the aim of being able to open her own beauty salon and turn the page to a stage she prefers to forget.

“Shortly after returning to Honduras, I decided to start my business,” explains this woman, one of the beneficiaries of an IOM program that has already reached 65 people in the Central American country. He received a 'seed capital' that in most cases is around one thousand dollars, from which to start forging a new life.

“IOM has supported me with the purchase of dyes, shampoo, enamel and other materials, but also with training such as 'Sales Strategies' and 'Teamwork', which have helped me a lot to improve my business plan,” he says. . She is “satisfied”, not only for having her own company but also for having two employees in her charge.

IOM, which has been developing the Return and Reintegration Project in the Northern Triangle of Central America since 2016, has focused on development through projects in industry, agriculture, commerce and services. The organization studies each case and, as in the case of Marcia, buys the elements required for the company and offers a training process that ranges from administration and finance to psychosocial support.

Naim decided to leave Honduras because “the situation was terrible”, which led him to Mexico with his daughter at the end of 2017. After 42 days, he crossed the US border, a fateful day in which he was separated from his daughter – – “I only had communication with my daughter twice” – and that began almost seven months of custody.

He returned to Honduras, with “nothing” in his pockets. “I had no encouragement at all, because my daughter had been given up for adoption, but her adoptive family decided to send her back with me,” says Naim, who then drew strength to get ahead and achieved IOM training and a business plan for the pig farming

“With the benefits of this business, I want to open my own electricity shop,” says Naim, who like Marcia also rules out returning from Honduras and risk losing what he has achieved. “As I left empty, now I feel full,” he celebrates.


The head of the IOM mission for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Jorge Peraza, explains to Europa Press that it is not so much about “welfare” as “support”, with a view to achieving a reintegration that is not always easy. “It certainly represents major challenges,” he acknowledges, aware of the need to provide returnees and their communities with tools from which to start building something.

“We are interested in those populations that are especially vulnerable,” he adds, putting for example female heads of household or dependents in their care. It is, according to Peraza, to propose a 'plan B' to those who want to return, since “otherwise they have no possibility of effective social reintegration.”

Of the 65 people benefited so far from the project, 32 are men and 33 women. By regions, 26 are from the Sula Valley, 25 from Olancho, 13 from San Pedro Sula and one from Tegucigalpa, according to the organization, which complements with this project other aids that range from food to clothing, through calls for the reestablishment of communication with families.


The Consular and Migratory Observatory of Honduras estimates that, so far this year, more than 95,000 migrants – at least 1,200 of them minors – have returned to Honduras, some 20,000 more than in all of 2018. More than 38,700 proceeded from the United States, but the majority, specifically about 57,000, have returned to Honduras from Mexico.

IOM develops a program to repatriate migrants from Mexico, but as Peraza has admitted, “in the Central American context, voluntary return is a bit complex.” These types of projects are held not only by those who wish to return, but also by those who have run into the bureaucratic wall that involves arriving in the United States or a 'sine die' stay in the northern part of Mexico.

The current US president, Donald Trump, has tightened his immigration policy and has entered into negotiations with the Central American countries to try to cut the migration flow to the United States. Peraza sees “premature” analyze the consequences of these agreements, which would include “different nuances” to consider once they come into force.

IOM respects national migration policies and that security issues can be taken into account when applying them, but calls for putting the needs of human beings above other considerations. However, Peraza urges to set aside in this as well as in other contexts the “xenophobic language to refer to migrations” and points out that his organization strives to extend “a more positive concept”.

It also urges the international community to expand the focus of attention, so that migrations of Central American citizens are not only news when there are “caravans” involved. Even then, according to Peraza, the analysis was “biased” and “it was not quite clear what the migration dynamics were” in the region.

In this sense, he warns that only the “large volume” of emigrants generated by Central America is already a “great challenge”, since they reflect the complications that drag governments “with limited resources”. Each migrant leaves or returns for very particular reasons, but Peraza insists on the need to offer all of them “an alternative”, with personal and general development as a priority.

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