At a time when over 65 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, Latin America and the Caribbean offer examples of good practices from a region which continues to uphold a long-standing commitment to protect those in need.
With Mexico a major destination – and transit – country for people displaced by violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America, the Mexican government needs urgently to improve its asylum systems and procedures if they are to be fit for purpose.
Journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico are being attacked in an attempt to silence their criticism. Many are forced to flee or risk being assassinated. The consequences are both personal and of wider social significance.
Locally run shelters along the migration routes in Mexico provide sorely needed respite and support. In the face of violence, stricter migration policies and daily obstacles, those working at the La 72 shelter strive to respect people’s sense of dignity while caring for their safety.
Against a backdrop of unremitting violence in Mexico, traditional migration patterns in the North American corridor are being reconfigured.
The impact of violence is felt daily in the Northern Triangle of Central America and is a major driver of displacement, yet its very nature obstructs identification of and access to those in need of protection. Honduras is now a case-study in the CRRF process, presenting an opportunity to learn from what is done, and not done, in one of the affected countries in this region.
Interviews with people who have fled violence in Central America reveal the influences behind their decision making prior to and during flight.
In a world that is more interconnected than ever, many refugees cannot obtain information or communicate when they most need to. Paradoxically, carrying a phone or connecting to the internet can put them at risk if they do not take security measures.
While there is much international attention paid to the treacherous journeys of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, both the media and international aid community have overlooked one of the deadliest migratory routes in the world: the Darién Gap.
A growing number of youth are fleeing El Salvador, one of the most violent countries in the world, and travelling unaccompanied to the US-Mexico border. Youth Outreach Centres have been set up in El Salvador to try to improve conditions in their neighbourhoods and encourage young people to stay.
The Catholic Church is developing various initiatives to assist those fleeing violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America.
Colombia has a sophisticated body of law and a wealth of experience in the development of policies for the forcibly displaced. However, numerous obstacles stand in the way of attaining permanent solutions to displacement.
After more than five decades of internal armed conflict, in November 2016 the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the FARC-EP. Does this mean that those Colombians who had been forced to leave the country must now begin to return?
Large numbers of children and adolescents recruited into the armed conflict in Colombia are now being demobilised. Lessons from the previous peace process of 2003-08 could usefully inform today’s transitional justice process, in particular with regard to reintegrating ex-combatant minors into civilian life and avoiding their further displacement or co-option by armed groups.
Violence and displacement have not ended with the signing of the peace agreement in Colombia.
Halfway through Colombia’s official land restitution process, questions arise as to why the number of claims is so much lower than anticipated.
Indigenous peoples are one of the most vulnerable groups within Colombia’s internally displaced population, and a lack of understanding of their culture and needs constitutes a major challenge to their protection and assistance.
More than 20 years since the end of the civil war, Guatemala is once again experiencing an upsurge in internal displacement. The causes are multiple, and demand attention.
Peru’s introduction of a new work and study permit for Venezuelans fleeing violence in their country is to be applauded – but it provides only a limited, temporary form of protection.
The Caribbean’s many small island States are grappling with increasingly complex mixed migration flows, yet few have introduced refugee legislation. Trinidad and Tobago is in the process of doing so.
Considerable progress has been made towards eradicating statelessness in Latin America and the Caribbean since 2014 but there is still work to be done if it is to become the first world region to eradicate statelessness.
South American countries have been increasingly opening their doors to resettle extra-regional refugees. One of the most visible initiatives was the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in Chile and Brazil during 2007 and 2008.
Brazil must strengthen its reception and integration of fleeing Venezuelans
Brazil’s resettlement programmes have been praised for demonstrating the country’s commitment to refugee protection but the number resettled remains small compared with international need. Brazil needs to address the financing of such programmes if it is to ensure their sustainability and growth.
Brazil’s humanitarian visa programme for Syrian refugees and its efforts to recognise their qualifications could offer lessons for refugee protection and integration across the region.
Only a year after Uruguay’s resettlement plan for Syrian refugees was established, the resettled families said they wanted to leave. Expectations have not been met.
In 2014-15 UNHCR Ecuador developed an index to measure the degree to which refugees are integrated in their host country, using three main dimensions of local integration: legal, economic and socio-cultural.
States in the Americas confront complex challenges in the face of human mobility caused by both sudden- and slow-onset disasters. A new regional guide presents practices and measures to help address the protection needs of cross-border disaster-displaced persons.
Efforts towards a regional agreement on migration in South America should be extended to recognise and protect those displaced for environmental reasons.
People in Small Island Developing States are particularly vulnerable to displacement by disaster. Governments in the Caribbean and the Pacific need urgently to do more risk management and planning, rather than focusing almost exclusively on response and relocation.
Proposals for a regional South American citizenship put forward by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) offer the possibility of alternative solutions for the protection of internally displaced persons and refugees in the region.
As they work towards the adoption of a Global Compact on Refugees, States are implementing the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. How can those involved in its implementation, including new actors, best achieve this collective approach to large movements of refugees?
To better respond to displacement, we need to adopt a medium- to long-term perspective rooted in development as well as humanitarian principles.
The Rohingya refugee crisis has become a regional crisis. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN) must enhance regional cooperation in order to improve protection for the region’s refugees.
In countries of first asylum, transit and destination it is increasingly towns and cities that are absorbing refugees. We must look at what is happening at a local level to better understand urban integration as a process shared by refugees and host communities alike.
Asylum seekers making claims relating to their sexual orientation and gender identity often face unfair refusal. New guidance from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada takes admirable steps towards improving claims assessment, and offers a model for practitioners elsewhere.