Migrants from the Caravans Receive IOM Support to Return to their Countries
San José – Since 4 November 2018, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) has facilitated the voluntary and safe return of hundreds of Central Americans who were part of the caravans of migrants traveling US-bound through Mexican territory.
As of Wednesday (28/11), 453 migrants (84% men) who were part of the caravans requested and obtained IOM support to return to their countries of origin or residence: Honduras (57%), El Salvador (38%) and Guatemala (5%). Twenty-five unaccompanied migrant children returned by plane. Watch video.
Information and registration booths have been opened in Tecún Umán (Guatemala), Tapachula, Mexico City, and Tijuana (México). Over 300 Central American migrants have expressed their interest in returning from Tijuana, and IOM is coordinating safe and dignified means of transport for them. Migrants wishing to return are counselled and screened by IOM to evaluate their options prior to making the decision to return.
As part of this programme, funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), IOM also coordinates with the governments of all involved countries for the regular and safe return of the migrants.
During their return trip, the migrants receive food and psychosocial support in border crossings, and when arriving at receptions centres in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the migrants receive hygiene kits and, in many cases, transportation money to get home.
Migrants who arrive at reception centres in the countries of the northern triangle are also referred to government institutions that can address vulnerabilities related to health, protection against intra-family violence, and access to employment exchanges.
"Many of the migrants I interviewed as part of the return process said that they learned about the caravans being organized through social media and TV," recounts Maritza Matarrita, an IOM protection officer. "Many of them said it was almost an impulse; they didn't stop to think about the risks and the exhausting days of walking. They just joined a group of friends or neighbours and joined the caravan."
"My destination was the US. I was looking for a job. Working is what I've done since I was eleven," says Dennis Javier, one of the migrants who requested IOM support to return. "But seeing things as they are, I changed my mind. I think it’s best for me to return to El Salvador." Watch video.
"Since 1979, IOM has helped 1.5 million migrants return to their country of origin or residence through its Assisted Voluntary Return programmes," says Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America, and the Caribbean. "For IOM, a voluntary return programme is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management aiming at orderly and humane return and reintegration of migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host or transit countries and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin."
Download the latest IOM Assisted Voluntary Return report here.
For more information please contact Jorge Gallo at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Tel: +506 2212-5352, Email: email@example.com
United Nations Seeks USD 920 Million for Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis in 2019
Geneva – United Nations aid agencies and NGO partners launched today (15/02) the 2019 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. The appeal seeks to raise USD 920 million to meet the massive needs of more than 900,000 refugees from Myanmar and over 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in host communities.
Critical aid and services such as food, water, sanitation and shelter represent more than half of the funding needs this year. Other key sectors of the appeal include health, site management, protection activities including child protection and addressing sexual and gender-based violence, education and nutrition.
More than 745,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine State to Bangladesh since August 2017, escaping violence in Myanmar and joining roughly 200,000 others already displaced in the Cox’s Bazar area by previous cycles of violence.
With the generosity and support of the Bangladeshi authorities and local communities, who were the first to respond to the emergency, critical needs were met, and many lives were saved.
“The solidarity shown by the Government of Bangladesh and the commitment of humanitarian partners ensured the successful implementation of the first Joint Response Plan in 2018,” said International Organization for Migration Director General António Vitorino.
“We are encouraged by the reaction that today we found here from the international community. We’re just seeing the start, but it has been definitely a good start and we hope that the needs for funding will be met during the year.”
“Our humanitarian imperative today is to stabilise the situation of stateless Rohingya refugees and their Bangladesh hosts. We are hoping for timely, predictable and flexible contributions in order to meet the goals of this year’s appeal,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “But while we tackle these immediate humanitarian needs, we must not lose sight of solutions. I repeat my call to Myanmar to take urgent action to address the root causes of this crisis which have persisted for decades, so that people are no longer forced to flee and can eventually return home in safety and dignity. We encourage countries in this region and beyond to show solidarity with Bangladesh and to support Myanmar to start creating conditions for voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya,” Grandi continued.
The new JRP sets out a comprehensive humanitarian effort shaped around three strategic objectives. By bringing together 132 partners – UN agencies, international and national NGOs and government bodies in a collective effort – the Plan aims to deliver protection to refugee women, men, girls and boys, provide life-saving assistance and foster social cohesion.
The 2019 JRP is the second such appeal and builds on humanitarian achievements made thus far in order to further stabilize the situation of Rohingya refugees.
Over the past 12 months aid agencies have worked to improve the conditions across refugee settlements through the support provided under the 2018 JRP – providing basic assistance, upgrading living conditions in the camps and putting in place disaster risk mitigation measures for monsoon and cyclone seasons.
The environmental impact of the influx has been reduced, through efforts such as reducing the demand for firewood through the provision of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) as an alternative cooking and heating fuel.
The prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition, at emergency levels in late 2017, has now dropped below the emergency threshold (from 19 per cent to 12 per cent), food security has improved, immunization coverage has grown to 89 per cent, and women delivering their babies in health facilities has risen from 22 per cent to 40 per cent.
Despite these and other achievements, the Rohingya remain in an extremely precarious situation, highlighting the importance of sustained support. Until root causes of displacement in Myanmar are addressed and refugees are able to voluntarily return in safety and dignity, support must be provided to the Bangladeshi authorities to meet the needs of refugees and the host communities.
For example, the entire refugee population received basic emergency shelter kits to help them cope with the rainy season in 2018, but safer and more robust shelters are now required. Around 860,000 refugees regularly receive food assistance, yet only 240,000 are able to diversify their diet beyond the minimum package of rice, lentils and oil. These resources must be expanded to ensure their nutrition and health. Similarly, continued investments into safe water and sanitation, health and protection services are vital.
“The biggest challenge is not only addressing the basic needs of the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, but it is also to at same time address the impacts of the presence of the Rohingya displaced people in the host communities in Bangladesh,” said IOM Director General Vitorino. “The two things go together.”
For more information, please contact:
Andrej Mahecic, firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 22 739 8347 (desk), +41 79 642 9709 (mobile)