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UNHCR’s Grandi urges better protection for displaced in Americas, addressing causes of movements

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UNHCR’s Grandi urges better protection for displaced in Americas, addressing causes of movements

16 November 2023
Colombia. Visit of HC, Filippo Grandi, to Darien Gap.

High Commissioner Filippo Grandi meeting with Renette Saintilma, Djouleny Jean and Cristina Jean from Haiti while visiting the Colombian town of Necoclí, near the border with Panama.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has concluded a three-day visit to Colombia, a country facing multiple population movements. He saw how, despite the multiple challenges, the government and people of Colombia are focused on solutions to displacement.

“Colombia's approach in aiding, protecting and providing solutions for displaced people, refugees and migrants, while attempting to address the root causes of their movement, is exemplary,” Grandi said during his meeting with the Colombian Vice President and Minister of Equality and Equity, Francia Márquez. They also discussed Colombia’s role as one of the co-conveners of the Global Refugee Forum, the world's largest international gathering on refugees, due to be held in December. He added: "Colombia´s voice in the Forum will be essential. The Forum is precisely meant to share good practices and lessons learned, but also to contribute to solutions for refugees and for their hosting countries.”

Grandi also talked to internally displaced people, community leaders and national and local authorities. “I heard from the displaced people I have met that security is their main concern and the main obstacle to returning home. It is important that they are actively integrated in the Government-led peace process, so that their voice is being heard,” said Grandi. 

He expressed concern about the grave situation of internal displacement in Colombia. More than 100,000 people have been forcibly displaced this year alone. About 6.9 million displaced people are now in dire need of assistance and access to solutions. They are highly vulnerable, low income communities. 

The situation in the country is compounded by unprecedented mixed movements in the Americas region, with its epicenter in the Darien region between Colombia and Panama, where nearly 470,000 refugees and migrants have undertaken perilous journeys in 2023 alone, with hundreds perishing on the way. 

The High Commissioner visited the Colombian towns of Necoclí and Acandí, bordering Panama, where he met several of those heading to the Darien jungle. He saw aspects of the coordinated humanitarian response to increasing needs, aimed also at supporting the Colombian Government’s efforts to strengthen its civilian presence in the affected areas.

He also visited a Safe Mobility Office in Bogota, part of the “Safe Mobility” initiative led by the United States of America in partnership with countries in the region, and supported by UNHCR and IOM, aimed at offering refugees and migrants lawful alternatives, and helping them avoid the dangerous Darien route. 

The complex mixed movements of refugees and migrants require true responsibility sharing and a comprehensive route-based approach. “More assistance for those on the move, particularly the vulnerable, increased support to host countries for protection and inclusion of people in need, establishing additional safe and legal pathways options and addressing the root causes of those movements are crucial,” concluded Grandi.

Notes for editors:

  • The Global Refugee Forum (GRF) will take place from 13 to 15 December in Geneva, Switzerland. The GRF convenes every four years. Its objective is to strengthen responsibility-sharing in line with the Global Compact on Refugees’ four objectives: easing pressure on host countries, enhancing opportunities for self-reliance, expanding access to third-country solutions, and supporting the conditions in countries of origin for the safe and dignified return of those who have fled. 
  • The situation in Colombia is part of the mixed movement of refugees and migrants across the Americas, as the continent grapples with complex humanitarian crises, playing host to an unprecedented 22 million individuals compelled to flee their homelands and communities in pursuit of safety and stability. 
  • The Interagency Group on Mixed Migration Flows (GIFMM by its Spanish acronym) was created in 2016, and it is co-led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Its objective is to coordinate the response of aid agencies to the needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, Colombian returnees, and the host population in Colombia, in a complementary manner with the national Government. The GIFMM has 81 members, including agencies of the United Nations, international and national NGOs, and members of the Red Cross Movement.
  • Download B-roll on the High Commissioner’s trip to Colombia.

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