IOM emphasizes the need for holistic approaches to reception and reintegration of returnees to the Caribbean at capacity-building sessions

Date Publish: 

Georgetown - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently completed its training workshop Reception and Reintegration of Forced Returnees in the Caribbean. The trainings were held online and in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. This workshop was designed to build the capacity of migration officials in the Caribbean to manage the reception and reintegration processes of persons forced to return to the region. The workshop included representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.   

In his opening remarks, IOM Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean and Chief of Mission for Guyana, Robert Natiello, explained that migration is a cross-cutting issue that requires  several levels of cooperation for its management. According to Natiello, migrants who were forced to return to the region can often end up in vulnerable situations due to a lack of support networks upon returning and access to social welfare systems.  

“Referral networks […] need to have the involvement of many actors, both government actors but also civil society actors, NGOs, churches, and of course family members and friends,” said Natiello. He explained that this workshop was designed to address these reintegration systems for forced returnees while developing the capacity of governments to respond.  

Meanwhile, Executive Director of CARICOM IMPACS, Lt. Col. Michael Jones emphasized that the forced return of migrants to the region has had far reaching social implications on the development and national security of the region. ED Jones identified several key areas of implementation that needed to be enhanced to ensure the orderly reintegration of returning migrants such as, enhanced information sharing from key CARICOM Members States, standardization of procedures, public education, and social assistance programmes.  

ED Jones also highlighted the importance for developing strategies to improve data management. He further noted that 4,323 involuntary return of migrants were registered in the region in 2018, and that this data was collected from only seven Caribbean countries. “The implementation of these proper data collection and information sharing can help to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of involuntary return migrants into society,” explained ED Jones.  

Additionally, Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade, Hon. E.P. Chet Green noted that the workshop was an opportunity to form a “collective spirit” among participants to accept and address the realities of the processes involved in the reception and reintegration of forced returnees in the region. Minister Green also challenged participants to critically engage with all the factors surrounding the involuntary return of migrants, so that they could determine clear strategies and workable solutions while bearing in mind the similarities and differences of Caribbean societies. He also highlighted the importance of receiving such training during this time so that countries can be equipped to also receive voluntary returnees to the region, following the impact of the novel coronavirus in their countries of residence.  

This training spanned two weeks, with three live online sessions that included participant and expert presentations. Expert presenters included IOM specialists Rosilyne Borland, and Claudette Walls, who focused on the human rights dimension of migration, and the implementation of good practices in reintegration, respectively. Meanwhile, migration specialist, Fabio Jimenez, also presented on the IOM, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees Policy Guide on Entrepreneurship, which covered the economic benefits of reintegration. Participants were trained to recognize that reintegration strategies must take into consideration the economic, social, and psycho-social realities that forced returnees face when returning to the region. The course also shared material that examined the real-life challenges that reintegration can have on communities and discussed ways through which these can be overcome to minimize rates of recidivism in the region.  

Upon the completion of the course, participants were awarded certificates of participation from IOM. Additionally, a final report on the workshop, including priorities, conclusions and recommendations will be prepared and shared to participating agencies. This workshop is part of IOM Regional Program on Migration - Mesoamerica & the Caribbean, funded by the US Department of State Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration. 


EU, IOM, UNHCR to Support Peaceful Integration of Refugees and Migrants across Latin American, Caribbean Communities Affected by Covid-19

Date Publish: 
18 / 12 / 2020

The European Union (EU), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are joining forces to promote integration and peaceful coexistence among refugees, migrants and vulnerable host communities in a new initiative being launched in 11 countries throughout Central, South America and the Caribbean.

The joint initiative will assist communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing greater access to social protection services and support to lessen the pandemic's socioeconomic impact and enhance efforts for long-term recovery.

The interventions also aim to strengthen the national health response by improving the access and inclusion of refugees and migrants in national health responses, while enhancing social cohesion with host communities through positive interaction and improved sensitization on COVID-19.

"This joint initiative will benefit vulnerable populations, governments and civil society organizations across the regions by enhancing direct health services and capacity development, social cohesion and coordination,” said Alejandro Guidi, IOM’s Senior Regional Advisor for the Americas. “The projects will be closely coordinated with local and national governments to capitalize on synergies with other initiatives led by government and international organizations.”

"COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable refugees and migrants across the region, and its host communities,” said Jose Samaniego, UNHCR Regional Director for the Americas. “This partnership arrives at a moment when strong and coordinated efforts are crucial to ensure that refugees and migrants are given the chance to support societies to heal and become stronger."

Latin America and the Caribbean have been hard hit by COVID-19 and the region faces a severe economic downturn. While each country faces distinct challenges, there is an overall need to support governments in their COVID-19 responses in order to ensure these populations are not left behind. Risk of severe economic instability and insecurity is high because of the pandemic’s wide-ranging effects on a region characterized by poverty, violence and limited institutional capacity.

The situation is particularly difficult in large cities and remote, inaccessible areas, often along the borders where health facilities are scarce. Often, these areas welcome a higher concentration of refugees, migrants, and indigenous populations, who were already facing vulnerabilities prior to the pandemic.

COVID-19 has also tested the economic resilience of the region. Remittances are projected to decline sharply, significantly impacting countries dependent on them. While countries in the region have significant informal labor markets, confinement measures have made it difficult for the most vulnerable to earn an income, leading to increased poverty and the risk of widespread hunger, evictions, and rising social tensions and conflicts due to increased competition for livelihoods and public services.

According to governments and data gathered by the Inter-Agency Coordination Platform (R4V), there are approximately 4.6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants across the region. In addition, over 900,000 people from Central America have been forced to leave their homes fleeing joblessness, poverty, threats and extorsion; over 400,000 of them remain in the subregion.

These initiatives, funded by the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), will cover an integrated and multi-sector response to various vulnerable groups, including refugees, migrants, indigenous populations, and receiving communities, in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, as well as regional-level activities and coordination efforts.

UNHCR and IOM will ensure synergies are built under these actions funded by IcSP with other EU partners targeting vulnerable populations in the region, such as the Directorate-General for the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO).


About the European Union (EU)

The European Union is taking comprehensive and decisive action to tackle the coronavirus pandemic not only on the domestic front, but also on the global scale, working jointly with its partner countries worldwide to manage the impact of the crisis. As a global actor and major contributor to the international aid system, the European Union also provides crucial aid to partner countries in the Americas to address the impact of the pandemic on livelihoods, stability and security. Through the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), the support of the European Union is intended to prevent that COVID-19 fuels further sources of conflict, promoting peaceful coexistence and integration of refugees, migrants in their host communities in a coordinated approach with host countries, UN agencies and CSOs. The response of the European Union follows a ‘Team Europe' approach, combining resources from the European Union, its Member States and financial institutions.


About the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

The International Organization for Migration is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants and other mobile populations. IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration challenges and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants, refugees, displaced persons and host communities.

About UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people. UNHCR works to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war, or disaster at home. UNHCR helps to save lives and build better futures for millions forced from home.


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