Migrants from the Caravans Receive IOM Support to Return to their Countries

Date Publish: 

Migrant caravan

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: jgallo@iom.int

'Help Us, Help More': Support IOM’s Efforts to Assist Vulnerable Venezuelans

Date Publish: 
18 / 12 / 2018


Geneva – In line with the global theme for International Migrants Day 2018, Migration with Dignity, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) calls on the public to take action and help support vulnerable refugees and migrants from Venezuela in Latin America and the Caribbean.

IOM is reaching out to sympathetic and motivated allies of migrants to be part of the solution. The first in a series of IOM calls for action, Help us, Help more will share stories of the dignity, strength and resilience of people on the move, and will encourage individuals to support vulnerable refugees and migrants along their journeys, through online donations.

There are three million refugees and migrants from Venezuela, of which 2.4 million have left their homes and livelihoods behind in the last three years, in search of a better future. Travelling by air, road or on foot, on average 5,500 Venezuelans have left the country every day in 2018.

Emily Durán, 39, from Valencia, Venezuela, travelled over 1,700 kilometres to Cali, Colombia, where she was making a temporary stop before heading to the Colombia-Ecuador border town of Ipiales. IOM spoke to her about her six-week long journey:

“There were many difficult times on the way,” she explained. “I walked from Cúcuta to Cali… We had to sleep on the streets and had to keep walking for kilometres. It felt like we would never arrive.”

Watch the full interview with Emily Durán here.

Many of the refugees and migrants who enter Colombia opt to remain. Others, like Durán, are making plans to move onwards to Ecuador, Perú, Chile or Argentina. Brazil, México, and select Central American and Caribbean countries have also received Venezuelans.

“Some days I wish I hadn’t left my country, just to face even more troubles,” said Durán. IOM missions in the field provide lifesaving assistance to Venezuelan refugees and migrants through the distribution of food, medicine and emergency kits. In some countries IOM helps Venezuelans find temporary housing, while in others IOM operates transit shelters. Family reunification and cultural integration of Venezuelans, also part of IOM’s mission, help ease the transition into their new lives.

Host communities and governments have been generous with their support. But we need to do more: Help us, Help more

For more information please contact Deepika Nath at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 22 717 9897, Email: dnath@iom.int