Governments in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Meet to Launch New Phase of Regional Migration Program

Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama
5 December, 2018


San José, Costa Rica. The annual coordination meeting of the IOM Regional Migration Program: Mesoamerica-Caribbean was held on October 22-24. The objective of this Program is to promote migration governance in order to reduce irregular migration flows, the vulnerability of migrants to human trafficking, and migrant smuggling.

The regions of Mesoamerica and the Caribbean present diverse challenges and complex realities related to migration. In response, IOM, with funding from the Department of State of the United States, proposes this Regional Program with four pillars: migration governance capacity-building, partnerships, migration crisis management, and prevention through communication for development.

Participants included representatives from the nine participating governments in the region (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic), Program coordinators, and IOM Chiefs of Mission. The objective of the meeting was to create a space for regional dialogue and coordination in order to design work plans in accordance with the proposed pillars.

Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director, delivered opening remarks, emphasizing that, "the current face of migration in the region is irregular migration. This generates great challenges and the need to develop channels and public policies that promote regular, orderly, and safe migration, by means of large-scale changes."

For his part, Johnny Ruiz, head of the Department of Labor Migration of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS) in Costa Rica, stated that “governments have a great responsibility to continue working to improve their management of migration issues. We have received a lot of support from IOM in a critical time for the country and these spaces for dialogue are important for unifying approaches in the region and sharing best practices.”

Additionally, to promote government involvement at early stages of programming, meetings were held during October and November to present the Program to high level government representatives. Marcelo Pisani, Regional Director, Jorge Peraza, Chief of Mission for El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and Alexandra Bonnie, Regional Program Coordinator attended these meetings. Meetings were held with the vice-chancellor of Guatemala, the minister of labor of Guatemala, the directors of migration of Guatemala and Honduras, and the first lady and chancellor of Honduras, among others, with the goal of introducing the new focus of the Program, its components, and the activities that will be carried out in 2019.

The different government representatives acknowledged the importance of all the training and technical support on diverse issues that IOM has provided through the Mesoamerica Regional Program since 2010. They also acknowledged the importance of the tools developed such as MigApp (a mobile application focused on providing simple and accurate information for migrants) and E-Campus (IOM’s online learning platform on migration).

The Regional Migration Program is operated by IOM and financed by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) of the Department of State of the United States. Since October 2018, the Program includes the regions of Mesoamerica and the Caribbean.