Forced displacement from Central America is straining asylum capacity across the region, placing growing numbers of individuals and families at grave risk and creating situations that no country can address alone.
Violence and persecution by powerful gangs in parts of Central America, coupled with a social and political crisis in Nicaragua, are driving growing numbers of people across borders in search of safe haven. So far this year 593,507 asylum-seekers and migrants have arrived at the southern U.S. border from Mexico.
Meanwhile, Mexico has reported a 196 per cent jump in asylum applications.
In view of this, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for an urgent meeting of States in the region to map out coordinated action to address this growing displacement challenge effectively and sustainably, in ways that prioritize protection of lives and well-managed borders.
Based on existing successful practices, a regional approach needs to include expansion of reception capacity and asylum infrastructures, collective support for local integration programs, expanded resettlement within and outside the region and arrangements for safe and dignified return of people not needing international protection.
Coordinated regional action is also needed to address internal displacement phenomena before they become refugee flows, including robust development initiatives that address the underlying drivers of violence and displacement. In this respect, UNHCR supports the Comprehensive Development Plan between Mexico and the countries of northern Central America, currently being negotiated.
In recognition of this growing forced displacement phenomenon, UNHCR has developed new approaches to refugee situations and will continue to support governments across the region in delivering comprehensive solutions that are up to the challenge, that are secure, efficient and humane and that promote shared responsibility. Urgent regional talks, building on existing cooperation, could help drive the fundamental transformative solutions now needed.
Originally reported on UNHCR.