Americas Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework

The countries of the north of Central America are experiencing socio-economic turmoil and high levels of violence resulting in a multi-causal large movement of IDPs, refugees, migrants and returnees throughout the region. In recent years, the region has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of persons fleeing violence to seek international protection in neighbouring countries.

Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the United States of America are all affected, either as countries of origin, transit, destination or return, and in some cases, in a combination of these. Despite efforts to begin addressing the root causes of displacement, all indications suggest that forced displacement from and within the NCA countries is likely to continue.

Even before the September 2016 United Nations General Assembly High–Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants, States in the region had recognized the need for a comprehensive regional approach to the complex situation of forced displacement in the NCA that simultaneously addresses the needs of countries of origin, transit and destination.

In the 2014 Brazil Plan of Action, the 2016 San Jose Action Statement, States committed to address the various dimensions of the situation, including in prevention and root causes, strengthening protection within countries of origin and enhancing international protection for asylum-seekers and refugees fleeing these countries. Doing so will require a mixture of humanitarian, development human security and macro-economic interventions and support.

Key Figures from 2016

  • At year-end 2016, there were a total of 190,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from the north of Central America (NCA) in the region. This represents a ten-fold increase over five years.
  • Nearly half – or 92,000 -- were newly registered in North and Central America in 2016.
  • There were 174,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Honduras.[1]
  • 217,000 NCA citizens were deported from the United States and Mexico in 2016, a significant portion of whom were children and women with protection needs.
  • An estimated 450,000 migrants entered Mexico irregularly in 2016.

Strategic application of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework

In line with the 2016 New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants and its Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), six States in the region (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama) are leading the development of a regional application of the CRRF, known as the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (CRPSF). Building on the solidarity and responsibility-sharing mechanisms in the region, the CRPSF will support States in fully implementing their commitments, while identifying and addressing remaining gaps through integrated responses involving a broader range of stakeholders and mobilizing additional resources for implementation.

In support of governments, UNHCR is working to engage a wide range of stakeholders from civil society, non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions, the United Nations, the private sector and persons of concern in all phases of the CRPSF, ranging from national consultations and stock-taking of achievements to date, assessment of unmet needs, prioritization and implementation.

This regional framework and its preparatory process are State-led. UNHCR will support the process, together with the Organization of American States, the Inter-American system, the Central American Integration System (SICA) and the UN Development Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNDG LAC).

The main elements of the CRPSF will be agreed by participating States at a high-level roundtable in Honduras in October 2017.

Way forward

In the lead-up to the high-level roundtable, States are convening national consultations to assess progress made on existing commitments (i.e., Brazil Plan of Action, the San Jose Action Statement, Leaders’ Summit on Refugees), identify gaps, and develop national priorities for the CRPSF. These consultations include the main national institutions concerned, as well as the United Nations Country Teams (led by the United Nations Resident Coordinator), academia, Ombudsperson offices, civil society, the private sector, the donor community, and affected populations.

The aim of the consultations is to develop a nationally-owned operational plan that: (1) reflects efforts to-date by the concerned State to address the situation; and (2) identifies priority actions to ensure implementation of remaining commitments, as well as gaps and new challenges. Such needs will be fully quantified, with the corresponding financial, technical and human resources identified.

Regional consultations will also take place with a broad-base of stakeholders, such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), United Nations Development Group (UNDG-LAC), the Council of Central American Ombudspersons, the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), and the Episcopal Secretariat of Central America and Panama (SEDAC). These consultations will include international and regional financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, with the aim of ensuring better complementarity in humanitarian and development approaches to increase the resilience of forcefully displaced and host communities.

Areas of support

The Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (CRPSF) seeks to mobilize a whole-of-society approach to address the needs identified during the national and regional consultations, including through innovative responsibility sharing arrangements. Support will focus on the following areas, among others:

Providing financing and technical  support to affected States to:

  • Build viable and efficient national asylum systems;
  • Establish adequate reception mechanisms in countries of transit;
  • Improve conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity;
  • Address the structural causes of violence and forced displacement: 
  • Expanding third country-solutions for persons in need of international protection from the NCA, for example through increased in-country processing programmes and expansion of  the Protection Transfer Arrangement (PTA), which  offers protection and solutions to persons at heightened risk.  Additional opportunities could be provided through expanded family reunification, particularly for unaccompanied minors, as well as avenues for safe and orderly migration.
  • Engaging partnerships to make the regional refugee response in the NCA more holistic and effective.
  • Supporting the long-standing regional solidarity and responsibility-sharing mechanisms in the region.

Existing frameworks

  • Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action - In December 2014, the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean met in Brasilia to mark the 30th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees of 1984 and adopted by acclamation the Declaration and Plan of Action of Brasilia, agreeing to maintain the highest standards of protection at the international and regional level, implement innovative solutions for refugees and displaced persons, and end the difficult situation faced by the stateless persons in the region.
  • San Jose Action Statement - States in the region acknowledged the need for comprehensive actions to enhance protection and respond to the most urgent needs of asylum seekers, refugees, IDPs, migrants and returnees in the NCA and have made a number of commitments to this end. The Declaration, which builds on commitments made in the Brazil Plan of Action, highlights that the region is well disposed to meet current challenges through cooperation and enhanced responsibility-sharing. Further, a wide range of active stakeholders from international organizations and financial institutions, civil society, private sector and academia are actively engaged.

Background documents

[1] This estimate is based upon a 2014 profiling exercise conducted in 21 of the 298 municipalities.