UNHCR says stabilizing ‘caravan’ situation urgently important
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has mobilized staff and resources to southern Mexico since Thursday, following the arrival at the Mexico/Guatemala border of thousands of people as part of a ‘caravan’ of refugees and migrants travelling from Honduras.
As of yesterday (Monday) we had over 45 UNHCR staff are in Tapachula, in Chiapas State, and others are en route. Working in support of the Mexican authorities, our teams are providing staffing and technical help to ensure timely registration of asylum seekers, setting up identification and referral mechanisms for those with specific vulnerabilities and needs, and increasing assistance and shelter capacity.
Of concern to UNHCR at present is the developing humanitarian situation and the known kidnapping and security risks in areas the caravan may venture into. Stabilizing the situation has become urgent. It is essential that there are proper reception and other conditions for those seeking asylum as well as for others on the move.
The ‘caravan’, which has been estimated at up to 7,000 people or more in size is the second organized march in the region this year, the first having taken place in April in Mexico. In Guatemala, UNHCR is monitoring the border at Tecun Uman, where we are assessing needs and with our partners organizing humanitarian assistance to those most in need. In Honduras, UNHCR is monitoring the situation at the border with Guatemala through its partners and its San Pedro Sula office, as well as working with the authorities to ensure safe reception for those members of the caravan who are returning.
UNHCR would like to remind countries along this route that this caravan is likely to include people in real danger. In any situation like this it is essential that people have the chance to request asylum and have their international protection needs properly assessed, before any decision on return/deportation is made.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.