El Salvador – Honduras III cross- border meeting for the protection of at-risk migrants
As part of the strategic activities of the Mesoamerica Program, officials from diverse institutions from El Salvador and Honduras had the opportunity last month to exchange experiences and continue strengthening a cross-border network for the protection of at-risk migrants and their families.
This third bi-national meeting took place at the border point of Jícaro Galán in Honduras and brought together officials and civil servants of public institutions and civil society working in the Department of La Union, El Salvador, as well as in the Department of the Valley of Honduras, where the El Amatillo border is established as transit between both countries.
Although the countries of Mesoamerica face common challenges, it is not always easy to find spaces of this kind to integrate knowledge and propose joint approaches to migrants, particularly those most at-risk for irregular migration.
"This meeting was an opportunity to know the local migration trends and challenges on the border. Participants from both countries shared their experience regarding the organization of local inter-institutional networks on migration, which constitutes a solid basis to engage on improving coordination among institutions, both at the local and bilateral level” said Melanie Gómez, coordinator of the Mesoamerica Program in Honduras.
This III meeting of the Network for the Protection of Vulnerable Migrants in the Southern Region of Honduras and the Department of the Union, El Salvador, allowed to establish its Mission, Vision and organizational structure. There is also an operational plan in place that is in force until the end of this year. Among other commitments, it includes a monthly meeting of immigration authorities and a bilateral activity to raise awareness about the risks faced by migrant women, particularly those linked to gender-based violence.
The meeting was attended by the Migration Secretary of El Salvador, Ms. Helen Flamenco, who presented to the Network the Regional Guidelines for the Comprehensive Protection of Boys, Girls and Adolescents in the Context of Migration, developed under the Regional Conference on Migration. The issue of protection for migrant children generated great interest from the Network, who requested more specialized training in the future.
In order to promote such exchanges and cooperation, the Mesoamerica Program supported in 2016 the governments of the region to hold 21 bilateral meetings in the border areas of greater risk, encouraging the participation of central and local authorities. Participants have considered this activity very relevant to identify and exchange good practices, such as the implementation of bi-national protocols and the development of bi-national inter-institutional networks.