Disasters: the factor that internally displaces the most people in the Americas

Desastres: el factor que desplaza internamente a más personas en América

On May 2019, the Internal Displacement Observatory (IDMC) published its global report on internal displacement due to conflicts and disasters. The report details new occurrences and confirms the persistence of political instability, chronic poverty and inequality, environmental and climate change as drivers of cyclical and protracted displacement.

In global terms, the IDMC estimated the total number of new displacements in 2018 to be 28 million people, out of which 10.8 million relocated due to conflicts and 17.2 million due to disasters. Displacement in the Americas represents 7.5% of the global total of 2,091,000 people (the greatest number of internally displaced persons in history) with a clear prevalence of mobilization associated with disasters (1,687,000 people), instead of conflicts (404,000 people).


Graph: New displacements due to disasters during the last years in the Americas (Only the ten countries with the greatest number of new displacements between 2008 and 2018 appear in the chart. Other countries not on the list may have a greater number of new displacements in a given year. Full data is available at: www.internal-displacement.org/database/displacement-data).


The countries most affected by disasters in the continent were the United States (1,247,000 new displaced persons), El Salvador (250,700) and Colombia (212,000). In the United States, the profound impact of the wildfires that devastated California in the second half of the year and the effect of hurricanes Florencia and Michael in Florida during August and October are worth noting. On the other hand, displacement in El Salvador is mainly caused by conflicts, while Colombia suffered the impact of disasters (67,000 displaced persons) and conflicts (145,000) simultaneously.

It is also important to highlight that according to IDMC, displacement due to conflict in the Americas was concentrated in three countries: El Salvador, Colombia and Mexico, while displacement by disasters was much broader geographically, affecting 28 countries in the continent.

It is expected that most of the future displacements associated with disasters will occur in urban sectors, where poverty, inequality and corruption are relevant factors when measuring the risk of human mobilization. The solutions to prevent and address these situations require a multidisciplinary approach that combines adaptation to the effects of climate change, disaster risk reduction and the development of community resilience.

The IDMC report details the sources used to measure the new displacement situations in each country, including IOM's displacement control matrix (DTM), and calls for the development of recollection systems and data treatment that will be given for a better follow-up of the internal displacement scenarios.

How can Central American migrants become regularized in Mexico?

How can Central American migrants become regularized in Mexico?
Categoria: Immigration and Border Management
Autor: Guest Contributor

Thousands of migrants, asylum seekers and Central American refugees go north in search of better opportunities. Most of these people leave from Northern Central American countries (PNCA - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).

Some resort to irregular migration, exposing themselves to travel dangers and the restrictions that this implies if they manage to reach their country of destination. However, an IOM study in which more than 2,800 interviews were conducted showed that in NTCA 97% of migrants in transit make a great effort to obtain documents to regulate their stay in Mexico. In addition, between 59% and 70% of people would be willing to be involved in local education, employment or entrepreneurship opportunities, as an alternative to irregular migration.

Migrants who leave the NTCA when they reach the southern border of Mexico have 3 options to request their regular stay in this country:

1. Regional Visitor: allows a person to remain in Mexico for a period not exceeding 7 days in the States of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Tabasco. The card is valid for 5 years, has no cost and does not allow paid activities.

2. Visitor Border Worker: for nationals of Belize and Guatemala, allows entry to the states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Tabasco. It is valid for one year and includes the right to perform remunerated activities. However, this option requires having a job offer in advance.

3. Visitor for Humanitarian Reasons: valid for one year with the possibility of renewal and is granted in the following situations:

  • Be a victim or witness a crime committed in Mexico.
  • Be an unaccompanied migrant child
  • Be an applicant for political asylum, recognition of refugee status or complementary protection of the Mexican State, as long as their migration status is unresolved.

The condition of a visitor's stay may also be authorized for humanitarian reasons when there is a humanitarian cause that necessitates its admission or regularization in the country. The requesting person has permission to perform paid activities.

For migrants who want to reach the northern border of Mexico, they can only continue their journey as irregular migrants. For them, the way to regularize their immigration status is through a Visitor Visa for Humanitarian Reasons, request a waiting number to be interviewed in the US and qualify for the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). They can also cross the border irregularly and present themselves to migration authorities in the United States, and be returned to Mexico, also under the MPP category.

Those who return to Mexico through the MPP can wait for their appointment and request asylum in the United States or in Mexico, or return to their countries of origin.

Mexico has the potential to offer job opportunities to migrants in programs like Sembrando Vida or projects such as the creation of the free zone in the border strip, the Mayan Train or the construction of the Dos Bocas refinery in the state of Tabasco. For this, the visa options and conditions of regular stay for NTCA migrants must be strengthened and refined.

It is also essential that governments and organizations continue to strive to address the structural causes that force people to migrate, offer alternatives and continue to seek and support mechanisms that promote an orderly and safe migration.


Resources for migrants:

*IOM has resources to help people find out about regular migration options. The migrantinfo.iom.int website provides information on regular migration channels and opportunities for local learning, work and entrepreneurship development. On the other hand, the MigApp mobile application provides information on protection, migration procedures and services.