Mesoamerican countries strengthen protection of migrants and displaced by natural disasters with support from IOM

4 July, 2018

Mexico City - 32 officials from 10 countries that form the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), met on June 6 and 7 to strengthen their capacities and exchange experiences on the protection of migrants in countries affected by natural disasters.

The "Workshop on the prevention and assistance to migrants and people displaced across borders in the context of disasters", was organized within the framework of the RCM with the support of the United Nations Migration Organization (IOM) and the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD). Officials from Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic discussed the inclusion of migrants in the different stages of comprehensive risk management.

This training workshop was held just three days after the eruption of the Volcano of Fire in Guatemala, which has left more than twelve thousand people evacuated and eighty-three confirmed victims to date. During 2017, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) registered 18.8 million new displacements due to natural disasters across 135 countries. In Latin America, natural disasters displaced 4.5 million people.

At the occasion of the event, IOM launched its new regional study "Inclusion of migrants in risk management in Central America". The study shows that more than 17 million migrants originate from the Mesoamerica region. Being the largest and most diverse migratory corridor in the world, it is also destination for more than 2 million migrants and recipient of tourist population. Participants recognized the study’s recommendations on the need to include migrant populations in national risk reduction systems and consider national and regional migration policies.

To face these challenges, since 2016, the RCM Member Countries adopted a guide to effective practices for the protection of people moving across borders in the context of natural disasters.

In 2017, the RCM’s member states, with the support of IOM, held a first training workshop in which the creation of emergency units in the consular network was agreed as well as to further strengthen the capacity of consulates through the implementation of an IOM e-learning program, amongst other measures.

Representatives of the General Directorate for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Mexico (SRE) participated in the opening ceremony of the workshop; Panama in its capacity as Presidency Pro Témpore of the MCA; IOM Mexico; the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD); the Technical Secretariat of the Regional Conference on Migration (ST-CRM); the Migration Policy Unit (SEGOB) and the National Center for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED).

Christopher Gascon, IOM's Head of Mission in Mexico stated that "the countries of the region are committed to reducing the vulnerability of migrant populations exposed to environmental risk factors, and IOM, through events like this, helps governments to successfully face the challenge of human mobility in the context of disasters".

The event was possible thanks to the support of the Government of Switzerland and the Government of the United States of America, through the Office of Population, Refugees and Migration.