The Mesoamerica Program ´´Strengthening the Capacities to Protect and Assist Migrants in Situations of Vulnerability´´ has as a general objective to contribute to the development and implementation of strategies for the promotion of regular, orderly and safe migration, ensuring the protection of the most vulnerable migrants in Mesoamerica.
Since 2010, the Program is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), thanks to the support of the Office of Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the Department of State of the United States of America.
PRM supports 10 regional programs on migration around the world, including Mesoamerica, in order to support governments to:
- Build capacity to identify protection concerns and humanely manage their migration processes.
- Strengthen regional, multi-state migration dialogues.
- Provide direct assistance to the world´s most vulnerable migrants.
- Promote cooperation between the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
- Build regional and national government capacity to prepare for and respond to migration emergencies
Presently, the Mesoamerica Program is implemented in eight countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama.
Migrants in Conditions of Vulnerabily
Not al migrants are vulnerable per se, however, migration involves people with distinc vulnerabilites that deserve special attention.
´´Condition of Vulnerability´´ refers to the social, cultural, economical, political and personal situations that place people at a higher risk of violation of their human rights.
In the City of Tabasco, México, the Mesoamerica Team carries monitoring visits to shelters for migrant persons.
In 2016, IOM developed a framework for analyzing and responding to migrant vulnerability. This framework was specifically developed to address the protection and assistance needs of a specific subset of migrants: those who have experienced or are vulnerable to violence, abuse, or exploitation before, during, or after the migration process. It was also designed to be flexible enough to assess the vulnerability of both individual migrants and migrant groups.
The framework differs from other conceptualizations of migrant vulnerability that focus on an individual migrant’s membership in a particular category, such as refugee, irregular migrant, or victim of trafficking, or on a single characteristic, such as age or sex. Rather, the determinants of migrant vulnerability framework look at a range of factors at individual, household, community, and structural levels and assess if these factors contribute to risk of, or protect against, violence, exploitation, or abuse within a migration context.
It considers the overall level of vulnerability of an individual migrant, or a migration-affected household, community, or group, to violence, abuse, or exploitation before, during, or after a migration process, or their ability to avoid, resist, cope with, or recover from such maltreatment, as the net impact of the interaction of these factors at different levels. It also considers the ways in which households, families, communities, and the state can mitigate vulnerability and reduce harm.
In its eight phase, the Mesoamerica Program estimates directly reaching 15,000 beneficiaries.
Among them, officers from Ministries of Security, Foreing Relations, Work, Women and Children, Migration Directorates, Customs, local authorities, educational centers, civil society organizations, religious institutions, youth association, among others.
Central Axis of the Program
Capacity – Building
The Program supports in the countries of the region a series of actions and processes that aim at strengthening the capacities to better manage international migration and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable migrants.
Specialized courses, as the one on migrant children offered to officers of the Public Ministry of Honduras in 2016, are part of the offering under the capacity-building activities of the Mesoamerica Program
In all countries of the region, we develop workshops for officers of the General Directorates of Migration and Alienage, National Police, Customs, Women and Children Institutes, Human Rights Attorneys, among other institutions, as well as civil society organizations that work with migrants, at the central and local levels.
In the Darien region, Panama, a workshop on Psychosocial attention was implemented for officers who assist cases of migrants as part of their daily duties.
These capacity-building processes focus over strengthening the skills of officers for the timely identification and protection of migrants in conditions of vulnerability. Particular attention is placed over unaccompanied and/or separated migrant children, the prevention of trafficking in persons, the protection of migrant youth, and LGTBI migrants.
Prevention of the risks of irregular migration and information on the options for regular migration
We raise-awareness in comunities carachetirized by high rates of emigration, and comunities of transit, and destination of migrants, on the risks associated with irregular migration, and the options for a regular, orderly and safe migration and mechanisms of protection at the disposal of migrants.
The InformArte en Movimiento campaign is the central axis of the community strategy of the Mesoamerica Program.
The strategy is implemented through the InformArte en Movimiento information campaign, as well as through the opening of information hubs for migrants at key borders in the region.
As part of the InformArte activities, a series of radio production workshops were implemented for youth from different organizations across the region.
Making use of the latest in technology, the Mesoamerica Program developed the mobile application MigrantApp, including useful and reliable information for migrants in the region. The platform contains safe information regarding consular protection and assistance posts, as well as on the risks of irregular migration.
Direct Assistance and Assisted Voluntary Return
We offer direct assistance to the most vulnerable migrants, identified by government and non government stakeholders, prioritizing unaccompanied and/or separated migrant boys ad girls. pregnant or mother adolescents, victims of trafficking in persons, kidnapping and sexual violence, and stranded migrants.
This assistance is given strictly in line with IOM`s norms on the subject.
Through the Voluntary Return Program, the Mesoamerica Program offers support to migrants that wish to return to their country of origin and fulfil al the needed requirements.
We also cooperate with shelters that assist unaccompanied migrant children who are vulnerable in the Northern Triangle and South of Mexico, on the basis of previously identified needs. Such assistance can include workshops for personnel, assistance in the development of protocols, data bases, and registration systems, equipment, and specialized personnel.
Coordination and regional Dialogue
To promote and assist cooperation mechanims between countries, to comprehensively manage their migration processes, the Mesoamerica Program fostores bilateral meetings in high risk border regions, fostering the participation of central authorities at these meetings. In this key areas, we also promote the operation of immediate response units for the assistance of migrant boys, girls and adolescenets.
At the regional level, workshops are promoted in the framework of the Regional Conference on Migration, an inter-governmental forum on migration created in 1996.
Migration Management on Emergency Situations
We build the capacities of government and institutions to manage migration emergencies, and to anticipate migration crisis and prepare to respond to large migratory movements through the strengthening of coordination between civil protection and migration institutions, as well as the institutions in charge of the prevention and assistance related to trafficking in persons.
In 2017, the Mesoamerica Program implemented a workshop for members of the Regional Conference on Migration on the Guidelines for the protection of migrants in countries affected by conflict or natural disasters.