Consular Authorities in Nicaragua and Honduras reinforced their skills to assist national living abroad during an emergency

12 October, 2017

As part of the Mesoamerica Program to Strengthen the Capacities to Protect and Assist Vulnerable Migrants in Mesoamerica, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) implemented in Nicaragua and Honduras two workshops for consular authorities with the objective of strengthening their competencies to protect migrants during emergencies.

In Nicaragua, the workshop was offered to officers of the consulates of the countries of Mesoamerica and the United States of America accredited in Nicaragua. Among the topics addressed, the attention of the needs of migrants as a result of an emergency abroad and the role that consular authorities can play, as well as the prevention of the long-term negative impacts of disasters over the well being of origin and destination communities to which migrant persons contribute actively, stood out.

Based on the Guidelines of the Initiative Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC), IOM developed a capacity-building methodology to improve the capacities of States and other related entities to prepare and respond to crises that affect migrants, relief suffering, and protect the dignity and human rights of migrants caught in countries that are going through conflicts or disasters.

According to the Project Coordinator in Nicaragua, Heydi Gonzalez, “the MICIC Initiative is an effective tool to foster synergies and cover gaps caused by challenges to protect migrant persons in situations of emergency and crisis, especially in our region which is characterized by vast human mobility and high risks of disaster”.

She explained that when conflicts or disasters arise in a country, migrants who live, work or transit there can be affected in disproportionate ways; as it happened during Hurricane Sandy in the United States in 2012, and as it will probably happen in the Caribbean after Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria, where, according to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) of IOM, more than 20 thousand people have already been displaced.

Additionally, the Head of IOM Nicaragua Office, Paola Zepeda, highlighted that presently, double the amount of persons are displaced by disasters related to climate in comparison to conflict and violence, which suggests that migration – both internal and cross border – will increase as a result of the effect of climate change over resources.

 “Migration can be for many people the only possible strategy to adapt to the consequences of the unprecedented impact over the lives and the natural resource these lives depend on, in addition to those people who are directly affected by disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes”, said Zepeda.

In the case of Honduras, the workshop was implement in two parts: one training of trainers directed to the personnel of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Honduras, and a joint workshop for officers from the same Secretariat, the National Police and the Firefighters, the National Institute of Migration (INM), the Permanent Contingency Committee (COPEDCO), the Directorate of Children, Adolescence and Family (DINAF), the Inter-Institutional Commission Against Sexual and Commercial Exploitation and Trafficking of girls, boys and adolescents (CICESCT), the Honduran Red Cross, Covenant House, and the National Forum for Migration in Honduras (FONAMIH).

´´IOM, in its eagerness to assist migrant persons in situations of vulnerability, aspires through these workshops to increase the level of consciousness regarding the specific vulnerabilities of migrants, of the personnel in charge of the preparation, response and recuperation of situations of crisis ´´, said Jorge Peraza, Chief of Mission of IOM El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. ´´In of this, it is important to improve the capacity of States and other related entities to prepare and respond to situations of emergency´´, he added.

MICIC, through its 15 guidelines, facilitates the incorporation of actions directed to migrants within the national risk management and response to crisis and disaster plans for both, countries of origin and destination, in order to respond in a humanely and effective manner in which States identify their specific functions and responsibilities to protect migrants.

The development of these workshops are possible thanks to the Mesoamerica Program strengthening the capacities to protect and assist migrant persons in conditions of vulnerability in Mesoamerica, financed by the Department of State of the United States of America.