Central American Countries Exchange Experiences of Voluntary Return

17 July, 2018


Panama City – IOM, the UN Migration Agency, this week (16-17/07) held a regional workshop to exchange experiences of assistance programmes for the voluntary return of migrants in situations of vulnerability. Held in Panama City, the workshop was attended by participants from the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) member states.

According to the latest IOM report on assisted voluntary return and reintegration, IOM provided assistance to 72,176 migrant returnees in 2017 around the world. Among them, 3,331 were identified as vulnerable, of whom 48 per cent had health-related needs, 34 per cent were victims of human trafficking, and 18 per cent were unaccompanied migrant children.

At the regional level, Mesoamerica is considered as a region of origin, transit, destination, and return of migrants, where situations of vulnerability associated with irregular migration can lead migrants to seek assistance to return to their countries of origin.

In this context, the workshop sought to strengthen the countries' capacities related to comprehensive migration governance, including the protection and assistance of migrants in situations of vulnerability throughout the migration process.

Also presented during the workshop were the Assisted Voluntary Return Fund, from which more than 250 people have been benefited since 2015 and the IOM Fund for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration implemented through the Mesoamerica Program and has provided assistance to more than 600 migrants since 2010.

"We have found out that many countries make great efforts to assist their nationals abroad to return to their country of origin voluntarily, but often it is done in isolation and without sharing their experiences with other countries," said Santiago Paz, IOM's Chief of Mission in Panama. "This event will strengthen their own voluntary return mechanisms and make them more effective in their response to these situations."

"These regional exchanges and spaces for dialogue reaffirm the will of our governments to implement and work on jointly, to face different challenges for a safe and orderly management of migration," said Nadia Montenegro de Detresno, General Director in charge of Legal Affairs and Treaties of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Panama. "Collaboration and exchange of experiences between governments is essential to be able to act effectively for the protection of migrants, as well as the commitment and challenge for the member countries of the RCM, both of destination and of origin and transit, in the creation and strengthening of mechanisms and protocols to protect people who return voluntarily," she added.

The workshop also counted the participation of representatives from other countries outside the region such as the Netherlands and Colombia, who presented their own experiences with the purpose of promoting dialogue and exchange of experiences and initiatives that contribute to improving the protection of people in a situation of vulnerability.

This effort was made with the support of the Mesoamerica Program, which seeks to contribute to the development and implementation of strategies for regular, orderly and safe migration, ensuring adequate protection for migrants.

For more information, please contact Khalid Khattabi at IOM Costa Rica, Tel: 506 22125328, Email kkhattabi@iom.int