Guatemala and Mexico establish new bilateral committee on migration
Members of the Usumacinta Committee, Petén, Guatemala.
Petén Department, Guatemala. April 27-28, 2018. – The United Nations’ Migration Organization (IOM) supported a cross-border meeting between Guatemala (Petén Department) and Mexico (Tabasco and the North of Chiapas), which enabled the establishment of a bilateral committee on migration. The committee is named Usumacinta after the river basin that travels between Guatemala and Mexico. It is made up of municipal and state government institutions, civil society organizations, organizations of the Catholic Church, academic organizations, and international bodies tied to the governance of migration.
The Usumacinta Committe came out of three previous cross-border working meetings aimed at creating a binational network of institutions that would enable better identification, referrals and protection for migrants in the region. This coordination mechanism will also enable its members to share best practices and information on migration trends, to coordinate their activities to achieve common objectives, and to improve their awareness of the local work of the member institutions.
Migrant in this region are exposed to the dangers associated with the smuggling of migrants, physical abuse, robbery, and extortion. In the shelters in Palenque and Tenosique in Mexico, between January and March of 2018 alone, 6,000 migrants, principally from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, received support.
The Usumacinta Cross-Border Committee participants from Mexico included: The Directorate for Migrants and Refugees Support of the city council of Palenque; Asylum Access Mexico (AAMEX), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Juárez Autonomous University of Tabasco (UJAT), RET International. On the Guatemalan side, the participants included the municipality of La Libertad Petén, the Secretariat of Social Welfare, the General Directorate of Migration, the National Civil Police, the Presidential Commission on Human Rights, Betania Migrant Shelter.
Both the government and civil society participants agreed on the importance of these types of opportunities for getting to know the work carried out by all organizations on both sides of the border with the goal of effective communication between them.
“This activity is an excellent initiative which unites the authorities from both countries to achieve common objectives regarding migration. For our border city, the development of this Committee is of utmost importance, because it will improve our capacity in the city to coordinate with other institutions” commented Ana Estela Fuentes Arellanos, Director of the Municipal Women’s Office of the municipality of La Libertad, Petén Department, Guatemala.
These activities are part of the work plan of the IOM’s Mesoamerica Program, which seeks to create and strengthen interinstitutional networks to respond on migration governance challenges in the most vulnerable communities, as a better method of guaranteeing a coordinated, sustainable focus of its efforts.