San José / Buenos Aires - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is appealing for USD 74.7 million to respond to the humanitarian needs of the growing number of vulnerable migrants moving from the Caribbean and South America and then crossing through Central America towards Mexico and the United States. These highly vulnerable migrants are mainly Haitian nationals, as well as Cuban, Brazilian, and Chilean. Others are nationals from Asia and Africa.
More than 100,000 migrants so far this year have irregularly crossed the perilous Darien Gap jungle to Panama from Colombia after trekking through several countries in South America. The figure for the first nine months of 2021 triples the previous record of 30,000 on the same route during all of 2016. From Panama, migrants continue north on a journey that is particularly hazardous for women and children.
The Directors of IOM’s regional offices in San Jose and Buenos Aires said that the more than 200,000 Haitians who had already settled in Argentina, Brazil and Chile after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake also were increasingly vulnerable.
‘’The worsening socioeconomic conditions, the tightening of visa regulations, the difficulties in obtaining information and documents to regularize their status, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing xenophobia, among other factors, have profoundly impacted the well-being of the Haitian community in these countries and reduced opportunities for integration.
“The large flows of Haitians, Cubans and migrants of other nationalities have also stretched the capacity of many host and transit countries, some of which have become hotspots for rising incidents of xenophobia and violence.”
Funding is needed to provide life-saving assistance and to address some of the drivers of mobility, as well as the impact on 75,000 migrant, host and transit community members. The assistance would include food, clothing, health services and psychosocial support, safe shelters, and protection for victims and people at risk of gender-based violence and trafficking in persons.
The appeal also seeks to establish region-wide migration flow monitoring systems, alert migrants to dangers ahead, such as trafficking and smuggling, and to kick-start community-based reintegration. Minimizing protection risks through sensitization and social inclusion, working with authorities to strengthen management of these flows and to address the drivers and longer-term impacts of crises and displacement are also key goals.
IOM’s appeal also aims to provide humanitarian transportation assistance. In Brazil, for example, stranded migrants often require help to return to their previous host communities. In other countries, migrants may need assistance to reach designated temporary accommodation centres. IOM would cover the needs when required by authorities.
As returns to Haiti continue, the funding request also comprises post-arrival humanitarian assistance, including the improvement of reception facilities at the two international airports of Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien. IOM is also working closely with partners in Haiti on long-term community stabilization, targeting migration-prone areas and including a reintegration plan to prevent repeated irregular migration patterns.
The appeal will cover activities in 14 countries of origin, transit, and destination: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru. The appeal is not broken down by country breakdown as the situation remains very fluid and calls on donors to provide flexible funding based on the Grand Bargain commitments.