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

Date Publish: 

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

Statement on Assisted Voluntary Return in Nicaragua

Date Publish: 
15 / 04 / 2019

In reference to the announcement by the Nicaraguan government about the launch of an Assisted Voluntary Return program for Nicaraguans, IOM can report:

  • IOM received a formal request from the government of Nicaragua through a letter sent asking us to support an assisted voluntary return program for Nicaraguans abroad. The IOM Office in Nicaragua agreed to analyze the Government's proposal and study the program once its details are known.
  • IOM looks forward to cooperating with the voluntary, dignified and safe return of Nicaraguan migrants, in the framework of concerted work with all sectors of Nicaraguan society, including the government as well as civil society organizations and other interested key actors.
  • IOM's voluntary return programs are based on the free and well-informed decision of the migrants themselves, who request support to return to their country of origin. In addition, they strictly adhere to the principles of respect for human rights, dignity, security and confidentiality of personal data.
  • Since 1979, IOM has facilitated the voluntary return of more than one and a half million people to their countries of origin, in strict compliance with Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes the right of every person to return to his or her country.
  • Voluntary assisted return and reintegration (AVRR) is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management that aims at the return and reintegration, in orderly and humane conditions, of migrants who cannot or do not wish to remain in the host or transit countries and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin.


International Organization for Migration, Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean

San José, Costa Rica, April 15, 2019