UNHCR welcomes the U.S. Government’s initiatives announced earlier this week to address the pressing forced displacement challenge in Central America.
These measures include an arrangement offering safe, legal alternatives for people to seek protection abroad via a third country, increased resettlement opportunities, and expansion of a program providing life-saving help and protection to children fleeing affected countries.
“UNHCR has long voiced serious concern for the welfare of the men, women, children who are forced to flee violence and human rights violations perpetrated by organized criminal groups in Central America, and we welcome these newly-announced measures,” said Renata Dubini, UNHCR’s Director of the Bureau for the Americas.
The number of people fleeing violence and human rights violations in Central America has surged to unprecedented levels. In 2015, asylum-seekers from this region topped nearly 110,000 – a more than five-fold increase over three years – with most of them seeking safety in Mexico and the United States, as well as Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. Many people have been forcibly displaced inside their own countries.
UNHCR considers this a looming refugee crisis in Central America that requires a regional approach and looks forward to working in close partnership with all concerned Governments and civil society partners in the region to find solutions.