RCM countries discuss migration management and responses to massive migration flows, known as "caravans"

Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Other, Panama
16 December, 2020


In a series of virtual sessions facilitated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), between November 16 and 17, the member countries of the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) met to promote technical dialogue to strengthen knowledge and procedures, so that the preparation and response to massive migration flows are given within the framework of efficient migration management without neglecting respect for the human rights of migrants.


The so-called "migrant caravans" have mobilized more than 20,000 people in less than two years. Although three groups from outside the region have been registered, the vast majority of these people come from Honduras and El Salvador. Some projections indicate that these movements may increase during the first months of 2021, driven by the aftermath of the pandemic and disasters such as the recent hurricanes Eta and Iota.


"Given the complex and changing context of the region, the need to generate a regional dialogue, and response is more latent than ever. This response, in addition to being contextualized, must understand the role of transnational organized crime and, on the other hand, the needs for humanitarian assistance and protection," said Efraín Guerrero, Migration and Crisis Specialist at IOM.


Among the topics addressed in the sessions were the diverse profiles that make up these groups and the skills needed to provide assistance and protection to very large and diverse groups. Likewise, the participants discussed the means by which caravans are put together and best practices for following up on the messages that migrants are receiving.


In addition, planning and response tools were shared, such as the Operational Framework in Situations of Migration Crisis (MCOF), an instrument that can be incorporated into institutional actions to strengthen their response capacity in certain areas.


Additionally, that same week, IOM facilitated a webinar on the identification of irregular migrants and detection of fraudulent documentation, at the request of the RCM Border Management Working Group. The webinar strengthened the skills of staff at entry points to identify false documentation and, through the crossing of multiple databases and registries, address suspected identity theft. In addition, specific protocols for the identification and protection of children were addressed.


"Managing identity means connecting each individual to the State. The registration process is key, and especially in crisis contexts, because then social services, protection, food, health, etc., can use that documentation for their processes," explained Cy Winter, IOM Immigration and Border Management Specialist for the Americas.


The RCM is a voluntary regional consultative process that allows for consensual decision-making and provides a space for discussion of regional and international migration. It met for the first time in 1996 and comprises eleven countries.


This activity was carried out with the support of the Western Hemisphere Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.