US gives $125 mn to Honduras to stem emigration

Tegucigalpa (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday gave Honduras the first $125 million from a regional scheme aimed at curbing emigration from Central America to its borders, according to officials.

The aid transfer was signed by the US ambassador, James Nealon, and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, with the latter saying: "Our goal is to attack the root of the problem of irregular migration" to the United States.

The money comes from a $750 million Alliance for Prosperity Plan authorized by former US president Barack Obama.

The money is meant to improve living conditions, economic prospects and security in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The three countries are together known as the Northern Triangle of Central America: an area wracked by gang violence and poverty, and which is the biggest source of illegal migrants to the US.

Every year, between 80,000 and 100,000 Hondurans trek north in an attempt to get into the United States, according to estimates by humanitarian groups.

About a million of their compatriots live in the US, most of them without legal residency papers.

The new US president, Donald Trump, has promised to reduce the number of undocumented migrants in the United States and to deport many of them back to their home countries.

He has also signed an order to start looking at construction of a 2000-mile (3,000-kilometer) wall along the US border with Mexico to stop illegal border crossings.