(PRESS RELEASE) – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, actively support moves last week by Caribbean nations to strengthen and harmonize their region’s response to growing migration and refugee protection challenges.
The two UN agencies acknowledged the efforts of the Government of Jamaica, a regional leader on migration and refugee policy and practices, for convening over 60 technical experts from the region in Kingston on December 5 and 6 to develop plans for strengthening the structure and agency of the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC).
Those plans include development of guiding principles, operating modalities and a regional plan of action aimed at formalizing the CMC structure by 2020 to increase capacity and adopt regional procedures for data collection, information-sharing and analysis allowing governments to effectively coordinate and optimize responses to migration and refugee issues, including alternative legal pathways for those in need of international protection.
“The Caribbean Migration Consultations offers a cooperation framework on migration for the region and provides an informal and flexible base for states and other stakeholders to meet on an equal footing to address issues of both common and unique concern”, stated Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America, and the Caribbean.
“The steps taken in Kingston last week mark a significant advance for the Caribbean region in addressing these shared human challenges collectively and efficiently,” said Matthew Reynolds, UNHCR regional representative for the United States and the Caribbean. “UNHCR will continue to support them in this work and we look forward to seeing it endorsed formally at a high level next year.”
“Ultimately, we envisage a scenario where the capacity of individual members to assess, respond and coordinate will be maximized, while the risks and potential for negative impacts on countries of origin, transit and destination as well as migrants and persons in need of international protection will be minimized,” declared Ambassador Marcia Gilbert-Roberts, Permanent Secretary of the Jamaican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
The 30 countries and territories of the Caribbean region are simultaneously a source of migrant and refugee outflows, a migratory transit area and a destination for migrants and refugees. According to IOM data, international migrants account for around 25 percent of the region’s overall population of more than 44 million people. This includes tens of thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and other persons of concern in need of international protection, according to UNHCR.
IOM supported this meeting through its Western Hemisphere Regional Migration Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.