IOM publishes the first data from 2019 on the profile of extra-regional migrants in Panama

Date Publish: 

Los Planes, Panama. In the first six months of 2019, Panama has received 34% more migrants from South America than it received in all of 2018. Every day, an average of 120 people arrive at the Temporary Humanitarian Aid Station (ETAH) located on the border between Costa Rica and Panama. In this context, IOM carried out a second round of surveys to track the flows of extra-regional migrants, using the DTM (Displacement Tracking Matrix) methodology.

“This work is extremely important because it enables a detailed understanding of migration trends and the different profiles, contexts, and vulnerabilities of extra-regional migrants. The data will be a tool for evidence-based decision-making. From the perspective of IOM, providing data on migrants to the actors involved in managing this situation is key for promoting orderly and safe migration management and appropriate assistance for these people,” explained Karla Picado, Information Management/MIS Official of IOM’s Regional Migration Program.

Of the 316 extra-regional migrants surveyed between June 17 and 22, 28% are women and 72% are men.  An equal percentage of migrants, 32%, come from each Cameroon and Haiti, followed by Cuba with 15% and India with 9%. The remaining people come from countries such as Mali, Mauritania, Guinea, Eritrea, Bangladesh, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola.

One of the principal findings is that the surveyed migrant population has a high level of education: 33% completed secondary school, 22% have non-university higher education, 30% have a university degree, and 8% have a graduate degree. Regarding their employment situation, 76% of participants were working before they left, as paid workers (44%) or operating their own businesses (32%).

The people surveyed have left their countries of origin for various reasons. The migrants from Caribbean countries stated that their primary reasons for leaving their countries of origin were a lack of economic opportunities and unemployment (36%), political instability and persecution (20%), and limited access to basic services such as education, healthcare, and transportation (9%). On the other hand, political instability and persecution (41%), wars or armed conflicts (25%), and insecurity and indiscriminate violence (22%) were identified as the primary push factors for migrants from African and Asian countries.

The United States is the destination country for 68% of the migrants surveyed, Canada for 7%, and Mexico for 14%; 11% have not yet decided on a destination country. Socioeconomic conditions were identified by 48% of people as the primary factor that influenced this choice, followed by political stability and ease of access to asylum procedures (39%). Family reunification, meanwhile, is the primary goal for 13% of those surveyed.

This activity was made possible by financing from the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) of the Department of State of the United States, within the framework of the Regional Migration Program: Mesoamerica-The Caribbean.

For more information, contact Karla Picado at


Preparation Underway for Regional Dialogue on Human Mobility & Climate Change

Date Publish: 
01 / 03 / 2021

Roseau, 28 February 2021 – Environmental migration and the increasing importance of understanding how people move after disasters such as hurricanes, landslides, storms, floods, droughts and coastal erosion, will be the subject of upcoming national workshops over the next few weeks in five independent OECS member states.

From March 2nd to 12th, 2021 the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the IOM Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) in collaboration with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, will bring together key government stakeholders from the core sectors of Disaster Coordination and Emergency Response, Immigration, and Statistics, in Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda, and St Vincent & the Grenadines, in virtual workshops to discuss the status of data collection and management regarding environmental migration. Other sectors that have been invited and are encouraged to contribute include Tourism, Climate Change, Environment, Education, Labour, Foreign Affairs, Economic & Social Planning, Health, Local Government and any other relevant stakeholders. A first national workshop was successfully held in Dominica in late January 2021 and dates for the workshop with stakeholders in Saint Kitts & Nevis are being discussed.

Communications Assistant for IOM Dominica, Maxine Alleyne-Esprit explains: “Over the last six months, IOM Dominica and GMDAC, in collaboration with the OECS, have been assessing human mobility data collection and management processes in six independent OECS member states as part of a wider ‘Regional Dialogue to Address Human Mobility and Climate Change Adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean’ project, which is funded by the Federal Republic of Germany. The project’s activities are geared towards building a regional dialogue in the Eastern Caribbean, to enhance governments’ capacities to collect, analyse and utilise data on human mobility caused by disasters.”

The OECS Commission is in full support of this project. According to Dr. Clarence Henry, Senior Technical Officer at the Regional Integration Unit of the OECS Commission, “Disasters related to natural hazards have been increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change. Understanding, through data and evidence, the patterns of movement, the complex motivations, and any issues surrounding environmental migration, will assist governments to set appropriate frameworks to ensure safe, orderly and dignified movement of people in these scenarios.”

Various government institutions and other agencies have contributed to the research. The upcoming national workshops will provide the opportunity for the research team to discuss and validate the findings of the study at country level. It will also be an opportunity to identify areas for improving the collection and management of environmental migration data, nationally and regionally. In this way, the workshops will contribute to a more whole-of-government approach to migration governance and management in situations of crisis due to disasters and the adverse effects of climate change.

Environmental migration is the movement of persons or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are forced to leave their places of habitual residence, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move within or outside their country of origin or habitual residence.

The Eastern Caribbean is highly vulnerable to a series of natural hazards, and the islands have been experiencing the effects of climate change. Anecdotal evidence suggests that environmental migration is often used as a short- or long-term coping strategy by many Caribbean citizens after disasters strike. IOM’s 2018 Migration Governance Needs Assessment study in ten island states of the Commonwealth Caribbean identified limitations in availability of data and evidence which is required for countries to plan their interventions. Ultimately, this project will assist OECS states to respond effectively to the mobility dimensions of environmental crises, providing for the socio-economic well-being of those who are forced to move. For more information on the project, IOM or its work, contact IOM Dominica Communication Assistant at (767) 275-3225 or via email at /


Donor Partner – Germany’s Federal Foreign Office: With its offices in Berlin and Bonn and a network of around 230 missions abroad, the Federal Foreign Office maintains Germany’s relations with other countries as well as with international and supra-national organizations. This work concerns more than just political contacts among governments and parliaments. Because Germany and German society are enmeshed in ever-growing international networks, the Federal Foreign Office promotes intensive interaction and exchange with the world in the fields of business, culture, science and technology, the environment, development issues and many more areas.

IOM – UN Migration Agency: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a United Nations organization working on migration issues. IOM was established in 1951 and is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration, committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. In 2016 IOM became part of the United Nations as the first agency specialized in all areas of migration. Dominica became a member state of the IOM in December 2017.

The core function of IOM is “building migration management capacities” where it is most needed, through providing for training of stakeholders to make a difference; development of national policies; engaging the diaspora for development; creating livelihood opportunities and setting up new government institutions. IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, promote international cooperation on migration issues, assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.