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UNHCR to speak at Munk School event on displacement in Northern Central America

A Honduran family enters the town of La Técnica, Guatemala, which lies across the Usumacinta River from Mexico. © UNHCR/Tito Herrera

UNHCR Canada is participating in a panel at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy to discuss forced migration in Central America, the causes of “caravans” and Canada’s response to the regional crisis. The event will be held on Tuesday, March 12 from 5:00pm at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR Representative in Canada will be speaking on the panel discussing how states in the North of Central America (NCA) – El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala – have experienced major displacement crises in the past 10 years, borne of endemic poverty, corruption, gang violence, criminality, sexual-identity and gender-based violence.

The region saw a tenfold increase in refugees and asylum-seekers from 2011 to 2016. Over 350,000 people claimed asylum globally from 2011 and 2017, with 130,500 in 2017 alone. Most made claims in Mexico and the US, but an increasing number sought refuge in Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama. In the first two months of 2019 alone, almost 8,000 refugee claims were made in Mexico; the majority from Honduras and El Salvador. Women, families, and unaccompanied minors are over-represented in displaced populations.

Internal displacement is likewise significant. The region has the world’s most urbanized displaced population, with roughly 95% living in urban areas, making traditional, camp-based humanitarian assistance challenging.

Regional displacement has international implications. Between 400,000 and 500,000 NCA nationals cross irregularly into Mexico annually, most attempting to reach the US. Mexico has become a country of destination, and the new Mexican government has quickly put in place reception measures and enhanced access to the labour market for refugees.

To manage large displacements, states need to apply a comprehensive regional approach. UNHCR is supporting a state-led process known as the MIRPS – the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework – which seeks to promote mechanisms of responsibility-sharing for the prevention, protection and solutions of displaced populations.

This timely panel will offer an in-depth analysis of the current situation, examine the policies of the new government in Mexico, and ask what Canada can do to assist host states and displaced people.

For full event details and to register, click here.

webinar of this event will be available shortly before the panel begins.