Mexico/Guatemala: repatriation programme officially ends

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Judith Kumin to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The Mexican government will ask the country's senate to ratify the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Mexican Interior and Foreign Ministry officials made the announcement during talks with High Commissioner Sadako Ogata in Mexico City late Thursday.

Mexico, Guyana and Cuba are the last three major refugee-hosting countries in the Americas which have not yet acceded to the 1951 Convention or the 1967 Protocol.

The announcement came one day after the High Commissioner, accompanied by Mexico's President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon and Guatemala's President Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen officially ended the repatriation programme for tens of thousands of Guatemalan refugees who fled their country at the peak of a 36-year civil war.

Since 1984, more than 42,000 Guatemalan refugees have returned home from Mexico. Some 22,000 have been allowed to stay in the Mexico's southern states of Campeche, Quintana Roo and Chiapas.