IOM Helps to Reduce the Vulnerability of Migrant Groups in Guatemala and Belize


Date Publish: 
09/05/2018

Peten, Guatemala.- To reduce the vulnerability of migrant groups in Guatemala and Belize, IOM, the United Nations' Organization for Migration, held a forum where authorities from both countries broadened their knowledge and improved coordination regarding labor migration, migration in emergency contexts, and expanding community information strategies.

International migration is a complex phenomenon that can involve two or more States, between countries of origin, transit and destination. When it involves population movements of a diverse nature, in its causes and characteristics, it generate challenges related to the needs and protection requirements that can vary widely, this concept is known as mixed migratory flows.

“In the region of Mesoamerica, more mixed migration movements are being identified all the time, which place people in situations of vulnerability. Therefore, it is necessary for the authorities to respond to this phenomenon in a coordinated way," stated Rene Chuc, Head of Office of IOM in Belize.

"For this reason, IOM has supported meetings with the priority of strengthening capacities and cooperation between homologous authorities in order to protect and aid migrant groups while respecting their human rights, especially those groups in vulnerable conditions," emphasized Honeyda Morales, from IOM Guatemala.
In this context, IOM also works on generating spaces such as the Migration Information Hubs, located in strategic areas of the region that serve as a tool to respond to the information needs of migrants and governments.

According to data from the Mesoamerica Program, between October 2017 and August 2018, currently there are 21 Information Hubs in the region. The hubs assisted near to 1,800 migrants, and some 122,000 people participated in preventive activities.

Jolene Middleton, the representative of Child Development Foundation in Belize, which acts as a Migration Information Hub, said that "in the last few years the number of people who have made use of this tool has increased significantly; we have also learned that it is necessary to implement public information campaigns in communities where migrant populations live and pass through."

In Guatemala, one of the partners of the Hubs is the Metropolitan Association of Los Altos, a consortium of 7 municipalities in the western part of the country, which has implemented prevention and assistance activities. Its representative Luis Ochoa emphasized that, "in Quetzaltenango a large population of migrants who are in transit, stranded, or returned has been helped."

"More and more actors are joining the initiative, like the Community Development Councils (COCODES) and organizations of women interested in developing actions to prevent human trafficking and migrant smuggling; with the IOM support 6 hubs have been opened," he added.

Mesoamerica Program is dedicated to supporting initiatives to strengthen the capacities of governments and civil society organizations to promote regular migration in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. It is supported by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the Department of State.