UN refugee agency chief calls on Latin America to champion protection and solutions for displaced populations

Press Releases, 13 February 2014

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, Thursday, called on countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to stand-up in championing the cause of refugees and those displaced in the region by conflict and violence.

"Latin America should further expand its strong asylum tradition and innovation by setting high protection standards and finding sustainable solutions for people affected by years of conflict, persecution and human rights abuses," Guterres said while meeting ambassadors from Latin America and the Caribbean in Geneva.

The meeting launched the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees known as the Cartagena +30 process. The commemorations campaign, which includes several regional meetings, will culminate in a Ministerial event in Brasilia in December 2014, where states are expected to adopt a regional Declaration and a new Plan of Action to enhance the protection framework for displaced and stateless people in the decade to come.

Developed against the backdrop of conflicts in Central America, the 1984 Cartagena Declaration is a regional instrument stemming from the region's long-standing generous practice of granting asylum to those in need of protection.

"The 30th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration provides a renewed opportunity to the Americas region to lead the way with fair asylum systems, finding sustainable solutions and eradicating statelessness," the High Commissioner said in his opening remarks.

The region has been dealing with complex issues of protracted displacement, mixed migratory flows and statelessness, but its strong record in asylum and protection issues will help it address these challenges, according to Guterres.

"I am very confident that states in the region will combine efforts to ensure the welfare and safety of the people in mixed migration movements, especially women and children. Latin America will again show leadership in tackling the protection needs of those affected by violence targeting individuals and families," he said. "Building on the region's best practices in urban refugee protection, livelihoods strategies and responses to sexual and gender based violence, Latin American countries can become a propeller for an enhanced global protection agenda."

Discussions within the framework of the Cartagena +30 process will also encourage countries to commit to eradicating statelessness in the region by 2024 and to consolidate a Latin American solidarity resettlement program, which will help both refugees from the region and from abroad.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Bogota, Francesca Fontanini on mobile +57 312 457 28 04
  • In Brasil, Luiz Fernando Godinho on mobile +5561 8187 0978
  • In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106
• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Central African Republic: Urgent Appeal

You can help save the lives of thousands of refugees

Donate to this crisis

Edwige Deals With Loss by Keeping Busy and Aiding Others in Mole Camp

Edwige Kpomako is a woman in a hurry; but her energy also helps the refugee from Central African Republic (CAR) to cope with the tragedy that forced her to flee to northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last year. Before violence returned to her country in 2012, the 25-year-old was studying for a Masters in American literature in Bangui, and looking forward to the future. "I started my thesis on the works of Arthur Miller, but because of the situation in CAR . . . ," she said, her voice trailing off. Instead, she had to rush to the DRC with a younger brother, but her fiancée and 10-year old son were killed in the inter-communal violence in CAR.

After crossing the Oubangui River to the DRC, Edwige was transferred to Mole, a camp housing more than 13,000 refugees. In a bid to move on with her life and keep busy, she started to help others, assume a leadership role and take part in communal activities, including the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. She heads the women's committee, is engaged in efforts to combat sexual violence, and acts as a liaison officer at the health centre. She also teaches and runs a small business selling face creams. "I discovered that I'm not weak," said Edwige, who remains optimistic. She is sure that her country will come out of its nightmare and rebuild, and that she will one day become a human rights lawyer helping refugees.

American photojournalist Brian Sokol took these photos.

Edwige Deals With Loss by Keeping Busy and Aiding Others in Mole Camp

New refugees from Central African Republic struggle with ration cuts in southern Chad

Since January 2014, a funding shortfall has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to cut food rations by 60 per cent in refugee camps in southern Chad. The reduction comes as thousands of refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) continue to arrive in the south - more than 14,000 of them since the beginning of 2014. Many arrive sick, malnourished and exhausted after walking for months in the bush with little food or water. They join some 90,000 other CAR refugees already in the south - some of them for years.

The earlier refugees have been able to gain some degree of self-reliance through agriculture or employment, thus making up for some of the food cuts. But the new arrivals, fleeing the latest round of violence in their homeland, are facing a much harsher reality. And many of them - particularly children - will struggle to survive because WFP has also been forced cut the supplemental feeding programmes used to treat people trying to recover from malnutrition.

WFP needs to raise US$ 186 million to maintain feeding programmes for refugees in Africa through the end of the year. Additionally, UNHCR is urgently seeking contributions towards the US$ 78 million it has budgeted this year for food security and nutrition programmes serving refugees in Africa.

Photojournalist Corentin Fohlen and UNHCR Public Information Officer Céline Schmitt visited CAR refugees in southern Chad to document their plight and how they're trying to cope.

New refugees from Central African Republic struggle with ration cuts in southern Chad

A Central African Refugee's Reunion With Her Sons Brings Joy and Sorrow

The violence and conflict in the Central African Republic has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes since mid-December. Many have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, including 80,000 in Cameroon. During the trauma and confusion of flight, families often become separated. They face many dangers on the way to safety, and their journey can take many weeks. Ramatou, a 45-year-old mother of 11 children, was separated from three of her sons and her husband when militiamen attacked her village in January. She ran in one direction with eight children and eventually made it to Cameroon with the help of African Union peace-keepers. Her husband and three sons ran in a different direction and endured many ordeals in the bush, becoming separated again. Earlier this month, Ramatou was reunited in Cameroon's Mbile Refugee Camp with the two youngest boys. She was overjoyed, but dismayed that they were on their own. She still hopes for her husband and eldest son to turn up. Photographer Fred Noy was there at the emotional reunion.

A Central African Refugee's Reunion With Her Sons Brings Joy and Sorrow

Joint Appeal: Help Needed for Central African RefugeesPlay video

Joint Appeal: Help Needed for Central African Refugees

The UN refugee agency and its partners appealed for more donor support to cope with the continuing outflow and deteriorating condition of refugees from the Central African Republic.
UNHCR's Dr. Paul Spiegel on the Border of CAR  and CameroonPlay video

UNHCR's Dr. Paul Spiegel on the Border of CAR and Cameroon

This video was shot by one of our staff* using a mobile phone as they helped refugees who had crossed the river to safety.
Central African Republic: Torn CommunitiesPlay video

Central African Republic: Torn Communities

For more than a year, inter-communal strife has displaced tens of thousands of people in the Central African Republic. But amid the violence, efforts are being made to promote reconciliation.