Background

In July 2018, MIEUX convened the Regional Knowledge Sharing Round-table for Latin America and the Caribbean, the second of these events after Bangkok in March 2018. The event was co-hosted by the National Institute of Migration (link in Spanish) and gathered representatives from Argentina, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru and MIEUX Experts from Argentina and Spain over two and a half days. Conceived as part the commemorative events to mark 10 years of MIEUX interventions, these events are a chance for MIEUX partners to exchange common experiences and good practices stemming from MIEUX Actions. While the event in Bangkok covered labour migration and Trafficking in Human Beings (THB), in Mexico City the Round-table was devoted to the themes of (re)-integration and protection of vulnerable migrants.

MIEUX and Latin America and the Caribbean

When it comes to migration, the current context in Latin America and the Caribbean seems to reflect the much-repeated mantra of “opportunities and challenges”.  On the one hand, Mexico was leading the negotiations for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and Ecuador will take over the 2019 Chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The region enjoys comparatively high levels of regional integration with regional organisations playing an important role in supporting enhanced migration governance, as reported in the MIEUX Regional Factsheet on Latin America and the Caribbean.  

On the other hand, intensified refugee flows resulting from the political crisis in Nicaragua and deteriorating economic and social living conditions in Venezuela are putting pressure on the whole regions’ capacities for reception, integration, and labour market insertion, giving rise to xenophobia and fuelling criminal networks active in Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) and Trafficking in Human Beings (THB). 

In response, many governments across LAC are developing programmes and seeking cooperation to ensure international protection and asylum; the integration and reintegration of migrants; the countering of THB; and the formulation of new mechanisms and strategies against SOM. In line with these needs, the majority of MIEUX interventions since 2009 have focused on addressing THB and SOM. Overall, the weight of MIEUX’s portfolio of Actions in the region has grown exponentially since the launch of operations, representing 33% of activities in 2017.

Given the current migration context, the debates during the Regional Round-table were framed around the need to formulate well-rounded integration policies, provide targeted assistance and protection to vulnerable groups, especially Unaccompanied Migrant Children and intensify cross-border and international cooperation against Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) and Trafficking of Human Beings (THB).

What were the results?

Keeping in mind the objective to review ongoing and past Actions, extract good practices and examine MIEUX’s longer-term impact, participants reported back on the achievements of MIEUX interventions. 10 years into its implementation, MIEUX’s peer-to-peer knowledge-exchange model has been able to produce some noteworthy results in Latin America and the Caribbean. A few highlights are:

Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) is a major issue and increasingly addressed at regional, national and sub-national levels. MIEUX supported the Ibero-American Network of Public Prosecutors on Trafficking in Persons to incorporate a component on SOM on occasion of its yearly gathering in 2017. The result of these efforts is the revised Protocol for Inter-Institutional Cooperation, which incorporates a gender dimension and human-rights based approach, published in November 2017.

In Costa Rica, MIEUX supported the formulation of the first and second National Integration Plans (2013-2017 and 2018 – 2022 respectively). Delegates mentioned how the concept of integration had evolved through the exchange with MIEUX experts from Spain to the current understanding of integration as a shared responsibility of both migrants and institutions. MIEUX’s key input was to organise inter-institutional working groups on topics crucial for integration (xenophobia, education, labour market, health and vulnerable migrants) and “share the journey” through the successive stages of adoption and implementation by different institutions and government bodies. The Plan 2018 - 2022 has spawned several initiatives such as the “Aquí todos somos migrantes” communication campaign to highlight diversity in Costa Rica.

In the Dominican Republic, MIEUX supported the National Migration School under the National Institute of Migration to develop its curriculum and the drafting of a manual to train journalists on the subject of migration in 2017. Participants cited MIEUX's flexibility and its ability to adapt the content of the Action to the local context and needs as the good practices that arose during the intervention.

In Mexico, faced with a 300% increase in reported flows of Unaccompanied Migrant Children (UMC) in the last three years, transversal inter-institutional cooperation was identified as a key priority by the National Migration Institute in order to improve assistance and protection to vulnerable migrants. MIEUX supported the organisation of a regional workshop that brought together representatives from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, the United States and EU MS experts, NGOs as well as major UN agencies dealing with the issue of unaccompanied minors in order to exchange on good practices on how to conceive a unified regional response to assist and protect unaccompanied minors. The longer-term result, as reported by the delegates, was the enduring connection and collaboration between entities on the assistance and protection of vulnerable migrants.  Currently, MIEUX is also assisting the National Institute of Migration in developing an online training module for Child Protection Officers.

What is next?

The final Regional Round-table will take place in early October in Cotonou, Benin, and will focus on migration policy development. The results of all Regional Round-tables will provide the foundations for an updated and comprehensive publication collecting MIEUX’s good practices that will be published in early 2019.


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