Over 40 consular and migration officers from eight countries in the region met this week in San Jose for a training on protecting migrants stranded in countries affected by conflicts or national disasters.
The workshop was based on the Migrants in Countries in Crisis Initiative (MICIC), an international effort led by the Philippines, the United States and the European Union, that aims to improve the capacity of governments and other institutions to protect migrants affected by crisis situations.
Central America and Mexico make up one of the largest migration corridors in the world. They include migration origin, transit and destiny countries and are exposed to a multiplicity of natural threats.
The workshop was organized by the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), an intergovernmental forum established in 1996 to promote dialogue and to share ideas and cooperation in areas of common interest.
RCM members include Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the United States.
IOM Regional Director for North America, Central America and the Caribbean, Marcelo Pisani stressed that MICIC is an ideal opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation levels and to ensure that protection for migrants starts well before a crisis begins.
“We must be clear on which actions must be taken in which countries to ensure that migrants do not remain in oblivion and left on their own during a possible crisis. Consular officers are the driving force of this process,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the Director General of Costa Rica’s Immigration Administration and event host Gisela Yockchen highlighted the importance of the training, given the complexity of the challenges and the need to protect human rights without discrimination. “MICIC’s tools will doubtlessly allow us to ensure our citizens protection abroad and that of migrants in our country too,” she said.
The regional workshop is the starting point of an effort driven by the IOM Mesoamerica Program in coordination with the MICIC initiative, which are both financed by the United States Department of State.
To support the implementation of the guidelines arising from the event, the Mesoamerica Program will encourage, in each of the seven countries under its coverage, a series of capacity building programmes at local level. An online course on the issue for consular functionaries is also planned and will be disseminated via the Regional Learning Platform on Migration.