Thursday, October 29, 2015
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has released a report, “Women on the Run: First-Hand Accounts of Refugees Fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.” The report is based on interviews with more than 160 refugee mothers and children detained by DHS, highlights the gender-based violence the interviewees faced in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, and offers recommendations to the region.
The Recommendations include the following:
- Make Saving Lives the Top Priority UNHCR calls on governments in the region to:
- Ensure that all steps taken to manage this situation are in strict accordance with refugee law, including the fundamental principle of non-refoulement.
- Ensure that all migration policies protect people’s legal right to seek asylum, and refrain from using detention as a deterrent.
- Provide safe and legal avenues to asylum so that individuals fleeing their countries do not have to turn to people smugglers.
- Reinforce Host Country Capacity to Provide Refuge UNHCR calls on governments in the region to:
- Set in place or reinforce individualized screening procedures to identify the specific protection needs of all those arriving.
- Ensure that individuals in need of refugee protection can access adequate and humane reception conditions, including by:
- Reinforcing shelter availability appropriate for particularly vulnerable groups, including transgender women and unaccompanied children.
- Strengthening alternatives to detention, including various forms of reporting requirements, community and supervision schemes, and accommodation in designated reception centers with guaranteed freedom of movement. Such alternatives have proven to be far more cost-effective than detention.
- Avoiding the use of unnecessary immigration detention and other punitive measures. Deprivation of liberty must be a last resort used only after individualized determination, and the best interests of the child must guide all actions taken in regard to children.
- Bolster efforts to ensure access to fair and efficient asylum procedures, including by:
- Ensuring asylum-seekers, and in particular unaccompanied children, have access to legal assistance and information on the right to seek asylum.
- Providing the necessary resources for domestic adjudication processes to resolve cases in a timely manner.
- Allowing for deportation of those who are not found to be in need of protection in a manner that ensures the return is carried out with safety and dignity.
- Training adjudicators on the application of refugee law to people fleeing the NTCA and parts of Mexico, with particular focus on profiles of individuals at heightened risk of persecution such as women subject to gender-based violence, transgender women, and unaccompanied children.
- Promote durable solutions and collaborate to share responsibility for refugee protection in the region, including through refugee resettlement as a strategic and/or emergency protection tool for refugees at a heightened risk.
- Address Root Causes of Displacement UNHCR calls on governments in the region to:
- Redouble efforts to formulate political solutions that address “push factors” and the root causes of refugee flows.
- Expand efforts to prosecute traffickers and smugglers while fully respecting the rights of victims.