(CNN) – An average of 25,000 people per day are making the short but dangerous voyage from Central America to the United States along the US-Mexico border, according to data from the United Nations.
The figures were presented at the start of a UN meeting on migration in Geneva, Switzerland, where Latin American countries are seeking more international support to manage the flow of asylum seekers and potential border crossings into their countries.
“A migration crisis is getting worse in Latin America,” EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos told UN diplomats. “Today, the UN Refugee Agency calls Latin America one of the most dangerous regions in the world.”
The high volume of asylum seekers is largely due to a rise in violence at home — the migration crisis for most Central Americans comes on top of years of insecurity and violent crime, including gang fights and other gang-related violence.
A non-government organization, Human Rights Watch, said this is “particularly evident in parts of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador,” which host many of the migrants on their way to the US.
“Many seek refuge and seek protection as refugees or make the decision to migrate for economic reasons rather than to leave because of their personal security,” said Irma Charrias, a lawyer at the organization.
She said that there is “no way of knowing” how many of the asylum seekers leave their countries for the United States because the process is opaque.
“Those who are able to travel on legal visa with security support from UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) apply for the protection of the international convention that is protected by the state,” Charrias said.
By comparison, the United States processes less than 5,000 asylum claims per year. The asylum process can take years, depending on the complexity of the case.
Migration from the Western Hemisphere is small. More than 440,000 refugees and asylum seekers were recognized by the United States last year. Only 1,400 of them came from Latin America.
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