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Americas: Regional cooperation crucial to address migration and forced displacement
Refugee
Photo Caption: UNICEF/Jose Daniel Urdaneta

Americas: Regional cooperation crucial to address migration and forced displacement

| @indiablooms | 10 May 2024, 03:49 pm

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to work with partners to address migration and forced displacement in the Americas.

UNHCR has renewed its call for a coordinated continental approach to the issue, as underscored during the ministerial meeting on the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, held in Guatemala on Tuesday.

New approach

The landmark declaration aims to transform how the region manages migration and is based on the principles of solidarity, responsibility-sharing, international cooperation, and respect for human rights. 

It was launched at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, in June 2022 and has been endorsed by 22 countries.  The Declaration is aligned with the Global Compact on Refugees, adopted by UN Member States in 2018.

Addressing the ministerial meeting, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi highlighted the personal stories and plight of hundreds of thousands of people making long journeys across the Americas in search of a better life.

Among them were people he met during a recent visit to the treacherous Darién border area between Panama and Colombia.  Nearly 470,000 refugees and migrants undertook perilous journeys there in 2023 alone, according to UNHCR, with hundreds dying on the way.

Progress and challenges

Mr. Grandi stressed the significant progress achieved by various initiatives to address the urgent needs of refugees and migrants in the region and implement the Declaration’s objectives, urging increased efforts and coordination among all stakeholders. 

Various initiatives are in place under the Los Angeles Declaration to build national capacity and provide safety and opportunities for displaced people and those on the move.

Regularization has benefited millions, UNHCR said, as have other efforts such as provision of humanitarian assistance, strengthening of asylum systems, greater socioeconomic inclusion, and the scale-up of resettlement and other legal pathways for migration.

Yet, challenges persist, requiring sustained efforts and innovative solutions to address the needs of the more than 23 million people displaced or in need of international protection in the Americas. 

Wider issues than the Darién Gap

“The Darién is only part of the picture, and the deep human tragedy it reflects will only grow unless we redouble our joint efforts to address underlying causes of displacement, consider protection needs, and prioritize solutions,” Mr. Grandi said.

He called for more investment to build capacity for host communities and opportunities for displaced people in countries of origin, transit, destination, and return.

UNHCR said it would continue working with various stakeholders to enhance asylum and international protection policies, promote inclusion and integration efforts, expand resettlement and other lawful pathways, and provide support to host communities.

Declaration portal

In related developments, UN migration agency IOM provided technical support for the establishment of the new Los Angeles Declaration website, which was presented at the ministerial meeting.

The website is available in English and Spanish and provides access to the Declaration, as well as to additional resources, tools, and educational materials about migration in the region.

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