The UN works to improve the living conditions of migrants and local populations in Mexico


Natalia fled her country with her children because their lives were in danger. When crossing the southern border of Mexico, he was left without resources to survive. Today, the UN Refugee Agency provides you with a safe place to live with your children; In addition, all of them receive psychological attention.

Like her, many people have found information that helps save lives or a home in shelters and institutions that work together with UN agencies in Mexico.

At this time, three UN entities, the Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), are working in Tapachula, Chiapas, to support local populations and the mixed migratory flows that cross that part of the country.

The UN in Mexico provides this support by accompanying national authorities such as the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid (COMAR), the National Migration Institute (INM) and also the government of the municipality of Tapachula.

Luis Arroyo / CINU Mexico

UNHCR staff assisting a migrant at the Tapachula Olympic Stadium, Chiapas, in November 2021.

Until July 2021, Tapachula concentrated 70% of applications for refugee status. In addition, this border city receives daily flights of people expelled from the United States.

“One of the focuses is on how this type of assistance really becomes an accompaniment that guarantee the rights of migrants and people seeking refuge, in the most humane way possible”, Explained Peter Grohmann, highest representative of the Organization in Mexico.

The coordination of the work of the United Nations agencies with federal, state and municipal government authorities makes it possible to serve both local populations and those on the move.

Thanks to these coordinated actions, it is possible to facilitate integration into local communities and prevent discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of rejection.

Luis Arroyo / CINU Mexico

These are some of the UN agency workers working in Tapachula posing together in the Suchiate River, on the Mexican-Guatemalan border, in Chiapas, in November 2021.

An indispensable task

For Luis Fernando Carrera Castro, UNICEF representative in the country, this joint work is essential.

“This impact is reflected in improving the living conditions of the population, and in allowing them access services that they would not otherwise have such as food, shelter, education and health and, on the other hand, create conditions to protect their human and legal rights against the Mexican State ”, added Carrera.

For her part, Dana Graber Ladek, Head of Mission of the International Organization for Migration in Mexico, said that this agency is promoting a model for provide alternatives for migratory regularization, assistance and reliable information to the migrant population that allow you to make the best decisions.

“It is important (…) to provide verified information to the migrant population so that they know what their rights are, what are the regularization options and the services that can be found in Tapachula,” explained Graber Ladek.

Giovanni Lepri, UNHCR representative, indicated that this agency supports the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid to can receive and process asylum applications fairly, but also efficiently and quickly.

UNHCR also has humanitarian assistance and relocation programs in other parts of the country.

“We have a program for the delivery of humanitarian aid to people who are in this category of vulnerable extremes, which helps them to support themselves until the end of their asylum process, at least the first few months, and once their asylum process ends, if they are recognized as refugees, we have a relocation program to other parts of the country where they can begin a process of labor reintegration, where children can access school and health services ”, He said.

UNHCR / Jeoffrey Guillemard

Children playing in a shelter for refugees and asylum seekers in Tapachula.

Mexico, place of transit and destination

Since 2014, Mexico has progressively gone from being a country of origin, to a transit country and, currently, to a destination country, where people like Natalia and her children arrive, who have been expelled or had to flee their homes. due to violence.

The change can be measured with figures: according to official figures from Mexico, in 2014 2,100 people requested refugee status, in 2019 there were more than 70,000, and in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the figure it was reduced to 40,000 requests.

However, between January and November 2021, Mexico received more than 123,000 asylum requests from people from Haiti, Honduras, Cuba, El Salvador, Chile, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil and Colombia.

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