By following a path that has been traveled from generation to generation, thousands of migrants from Central America, and more recently from South America and even from other continents, they have come to Mexico as refugees.
In the first five months of the year, our country received 41,195 refugee requests, a figure that has already exceeded the number of requests registered with the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees (Comar) throughout 2020, when there were 41,179, despite the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions on mobility between countries.
Given the increase in procedures for the recognition of this condition, which increase every year, specialists consulted by THE UNIVERSAL They expect the number to approach 90,000 applications by the end of 2021.
This is due to the fact that the Comar received 24,551 requests between January and May 2019, while in the same period of this year the number has almost doubled.
With this projection, it is outlined that Mexico will exceed the record of refugee applications registered in 2019, when 70,418 procedures were initiated.
Experts agree that the country can receive applicants; However, it faces the lack of a unified strategy so that, from all departments, it has the capacity to accompany them in the process and guarantee access to their rights.
In addition, they affirm that Mexico has ceased to be an exclusively migratory transit route and has become a destination for people who are forced to displace their nations due to violence, persecution, as well as for political and economic reasons. , among others.
According to data from the Comar, of the total number of applicants from January to May 2021, 9,687 are girls, boys and adolescents. In addition, 11,634 women requested refugee status.
The applicants come mainly from Honduras, with 19 thousand 33 cases; Haiti, 7,135; Cuba, 3 thousand 769; El Salvador, 3 thousand 8; Venezuela, 2,369; Guatemala, 2 thousand 63; Nicaragua, 936, and Chile, 866, among others.
So far this year, the Comar has resolved 13 thousand 98 procedures for the recognition of refugee status and the application approval rate is 73%.
In the framework of World Refugee Day, which is commemorated today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and calls for a global ceasefire, conflicts continue to drive people from their homes.
He also noted that, in 2020, at the peak of the health crisis, more than 160 countries had closed their borders, 99 of which made no exceptions for people who wanted to ask for protection.
The vast majority of the world’s refugees, almost nine out of 10, are hosted in countries neighboring crisis zones and in countries with medium or low resources.
Forced to migrate
Silvia Garduño, UNHCR Mexico Public Information Officer, assures that our country is no longer just a place of passage and has become the destination of thousands of migrants since 2014, when the annual increase in refugee applications began to be registered. .
“The increase is mainly due to the causes that promote human mobility in the countries of origin. Most of the people seeking asylum in Mexico come from Honduras and El Salvador, nations battered by gang violence, which affects entire families; There are also a significant number of Venezuelans who seek to get out of the economic situation that exists in that country, ”says Garduño.
So, people see in Mexico a space where they can rebuild their lives without having to suffer the violence of their country of origin.
Another cause, he affirms, is due to the fact that access to information has made it possible for migrants to know that they have the option of staying in Mexico in the face of restrictive access measures to the American Union.
In this context, José Lugo, coordinator of Political Advocacy for the Protection of the Ñinez at Save the Children, estimates that there will be close to 90,000 refugee applications by the end of the year.
The challenges for Mexico
On the border of Chiapas and Guatemala, the deployment of the military and police who seek to regulate entry into North America is the first face that migrants and humanitarian asylum seekers know of Mexico.
“Unfortunately, it has been thought that irregular migration should be accompanied by police operations, something negative in terms of rights and international agreements. It is not a good practice and it may be a risk that an administrative process such as migration is regulated by a police or military authority ”, comments Gerardo Talavera, General Director of Casa Refugiados AC
It assures that a unified government strategy for the care of refugee applicants is lacking and that, in the first instance, an agent of the State must be the one to accompany people and guarantee their right to migrate in a safe, orderly and regular manner.
“At the federal government level, one thing is what the Migration institutions and the National Guard are doing, and the other is the work of the Comar, which fosters broad access to information on the possibility of being a refugee, as well as the Ministry of Labor, ”he says.
In addition, he mentions, one of the great pending is the need to guarantee refugees access to rights and social programs from all fronts, not just from political speeches or isolated efforts of some agencies or associations of civil society.
He points out that although Mexico has harmonized laws, aligned with international agreements and with a human rights approach, the challenge moves to the operational level.
“Mexico has the capacity to respond to the increase in refugee requests and to receive applicants, since, in proportion to the country’s population, the figure does not have to represent a problem for the State.”
In what there is a risk, he warns, is that the country has the capacity to accompany all applicants if there is not enough specialized personnel to meet the high demand.
Changes at the social level, also necessary
Talavera emphasizes that it is also a matter of social responsibility that Mexico becomes a country of integration for refugees.
“It is necessary for the population not to think that the people who come to the country come to do something bad or to take away from them, but that they come to leave their effort here, to work,” he adds.