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A Fractured Response: Policy Recommendations to Strengthen Regional Collaboration on Migration in the Americas

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Throughout Latin America, multiple overlapping humanitarian crises continue to force the displacement and movement of millions of people seeking safety and protection. Violence, economic instability, and environmental distress continue to be the primary driving factors behind the increasing mixed and onward migration throughout the region. As of September 2021, the UNHCR had identified nearly 1 million people of concern in Central America and Mexico, inclusive of IDPs, Venezuelans displaced abroad, asylum seekers, and refugees. Globally, there are more than 6 million Venezuelans displaced abroad, most of whom are hosted in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil. Mexico, alone, is home to more than 285,000 in need of international protection.
In response to the humanitarian, political, environmental, and economic crises that have driven people to seek safety across Latin America, local and international actors have developed overlapping responses to contend with humanitarian needs throughout the region. At the international levels, these initiatives include the InterAgency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), the Marco Integral Regional para la Protección y Soluciones (MIRPS), the Quito Process, and the Friends of the Quito Process. These fora attempt to provide a space for humanitarian and development actors to develop collaborative response plans in Latin America. However, the patchwork attempts and lack of serious uptake by regional governments have resulted in confusing and dangerous conditions for people on the move through the region as they contend with a pervasive lack of protection policies and wildly different immigration regulations throughout their journey.
As a result of these conditions, the imperative to deliver principled and sustainable humanitarian responses throughout the region is of increasing importance. To this end, the IRC recommends:

  1. Donors and host states should agree to concrete commitments on financing as well as responsibility sharing and a framework for harmonization of policies (on protection; documentation; access to school, work, and healthcare; regularization of immigration status; and initiatives addressing the needs of people at risk of harm such as women, girls, children, youth, indigenous populations, and the LGBTQI+ community) across the region. These commitments should be agreed to with robust input from civil society and implemented transparently through local fora, in addition to the Quito Process, 2022 Donor Conferences, the Summit of the Americas.

  2. The Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international financial institutions should incorporate lessons learned from other multilaterally-supported and -funded compact initiatives in humanitarian and protection emergencies around the world into the responses in Latin America. This includes expanding the scope of the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) to include initiatives in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama, and expanding the GCFF’s scope in Colombia.

  3. Rethinking the approach to a humanitarian response in Latin America will require the sustained engagement of non-US donors to the responses, such as the European Commission, Germany, Spain,
    Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Japan. The UNHCR, the United States, and the World Bank can and should utilize their convening powers to bring these new donors to the table and draw on lessons learned from the Jordan Compact to strengthen the humanitarian responses in Latin America.