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UNHCR welcomes commitment by Central American states and Mexico to address forced displacement

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MEXICO CITY – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the commitment by six Central American countries and Mexico to strengthen their efforts to address and prevent forced displacement in their region, in line with the spirit of solidarity and shared responsibility set out in the Global Compact on Refugees.

Violence and persecution in the region continue to drive growing numbers of people across borders in search of safety. Over 53,000 new asylum applications were submitted worldwide by citizens of countries in northern Central America during 2019, an 86% increase on the same period in 2018. By mid-2019, the number of refugees and asylum seekers from northern Central America had risen to nearly 387,000. In addition, 97,000 Nicaraguans have been uprooted by persecution, the vast majority, almost 80 per cent, currently hosted by Costa Rica.

The declaration was adopted in Mexico City during the second annual meeting of the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (known as MIRPS after its acronym in Spanish), which is a regional version of the Global Refugee Compact. The MIRPS brings together Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama to work together as countries of origin, transit and asylum to address pressing issues.

“The MIRPS is one of the leading examples of how to implement the Global Compact on Refugees, which calls for States to manage forced displacement through comprehensive response frameworks, forged in national action plans developed by a wide range of actors, and embedded in regional approaches,” said Kelly Clements, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, during the meeting.

“The importance and need for greater cooperation between states and between all relevant actors, in a true responsibility-sharing effort, is evident. The MIRPS can and should provide the framework for this collective effort,” continued Clements.

The participating countries made a commitment to promote coordinated responses over the short, medium and long term. This includes investing substantially in addressing and mitigating the humanitarian consequences of internal displacement, which has so far forced some 320,000 Hondurans and Salvadorans to abandon their homes. There is also a focus on increasing the protection and help for displaced people, with solutions such as internal relocation or resettlement.

The declaration, which builds on commitments made by MIRPS members in 2017, also calls on the countries to adopt laws that promote the access of refugees and asylum seekers to the labour market and enable their integration in local communities.

“It is a unique opportunity for the international community to come together and lay the foundations for the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees over the longer term,” Clements added.

In 16 December, the MIRPS countries will be hosting a solidarity event in Geneva to highlight the urgent need for international support to respond to the complex situation of forced displacement across Central America and Mexico.

The solidarity event will take place on the eve of the Global Refugee Forum on 17 and 18 December, also in Geneva, which will bring together governments, international organizations, local authorities, civil society, host community members and refugees.

For more information:

  • Global Headquarters in Geneva, Elizabeth Throssell, +41 793377591
  • Regional Americas Bureau, William Spindler, +50763827815
  • Regional Office for Central America and Mexico, Diana Diaz, +50766463469