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2015 UNHCR subregional operations profile - Latin America

| Overview |

UNHCR 2015 Latin America subregional operations map

During 2014, all States in the subregion participated in the Cartagena+30 process. MERCOSUR countries have renewed their commitment to high protection standards, the gradual and regional harmonization of procedures and practices, and proposed new solutions initiatives. This includes an evaluation of the Solidarity Resettlement Programme launched under the Mexico Plan of Action, with a view to improving and consolidating it. Particular attention and consideration has been given to the regional migration frameworks under MERCOSUR for the benefit of refugees, particularly regarding transnational labour mobility. Countries in South America, mainly Brazil and Argentina, have witnessed a notable increase in asylum-seekers in the region, particularly Syrians.

The humanitarian response to the protection needs of Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans - particularly unaccompanied children, adolescents and women who often suffer violence from transnational organized criminal groups - has featured prominently in discussions with governments and civil society partners. The number of people requiring protection has risen significantly. Of particular concern is the situation of unaccompanied children, who are exposed to various forms of abuse during displacement.

| Response and implementation |

The Declaration and Plan of Action of Cartagena+30, expected to be adopted in December 2014, will focus on the following regional priorities:

  • Harmonization of legislation, procedures and best practices at subregional level, within the frameworks of the respective regional integration mechanisms;

  • Expansion of the Quality Assurance Initiative (QAI) programme, to additional countries, to improve the management of asylum systems in the region;

  • Adherence to international and regional protection standards, including extraterritorial recognition of refugee status, elimination of administrative detention of asylum-seekers and children, special protection/ solution protocols for unaccompanied children seeking asylum, and specific protocols for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals;

  • In the context of mixed migration movements, ensure protection safeguards at sensitive borders and strengthen regional cooperation and information sharing to combat and prevent human trafficking; enhance victims' protection; preserve the right to seek asylum; and establish mechanisms for the identification of protection needs and referrals;

  • Commitment to eradicating statelessness by 2024; acceding to and ratifying the UN's Statelessness Conventions; and enacting implementation procedures;

  • Enhanced international cooperation in search of solutions, in particular tripartite mechanisms for voluntary repatriation in the Andean region;

  • Promotion of local integration through: sensitization campaigns addressed at local authorities and communities; refugee and civil-society participation in the design of public policies; enhanced access to employment, with the support of private-sector social responsibility schemes, as well as to public services available to nationals; speedy and free personal documentation, without reference to the refugee status of the holder; a change of migratory status to obtain a permanent residence, and facilities for naturalization;

  • Consolidation of resettlement programmes within a comprehensive approach to solutions.

UNHCR's operation in Colombia is described in a separate chapter. For other countries where UNHCR operates in the subregion, please see below.

The Argentina Regional Office covers Argentina, as well as Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. UNHCR's overall goal is to preserve and further enhance protection space in the region. To achieve this, its strategy will include the parallel implementation of programmes focusing on the legal and physical protection of people of concern, including statelessness; as well as public awareness and durable solutions.

The Office will continue working to expand the network of partners, by finalizing a livelihoods strategy in all six countries, to widen options available to achieve self-reliance and boost local integration opportunities.

In Chile and Uruguay, the Office will promote the continuation of the resettlement and the women-at-risk programmes, with greater involvement of the authorities in funding and implementation.

In Brazil, UNHCR is supporting the pledges made by the Government, particularly for the approval of a statelessness bill; and engaging with key state actors to increase government involvement in local integration matters, such as advancing self-reliance and livelihood options in urban areas. The Office is also working with the Government to strengthen its support to the solidarity resettlement programme; and to provide physical and legal protection for people of concern, particularly vulnerable individuals.

UNHCR in Costa Rica will continue re-orientating its protection and durable solutions strategy, including by maintaining regular visits to, and training activities, at the southern border points; and closely monitoring international airports and the northern border entry points for Central Americans requiring protection. The Office will capitalize on the QAI process developed in 2013, strategically applying limited human, technical and material resources to reduce the refugee status determination backlog, and improve recognition rates. UNHCR will concentrate on durable solutions, particularly local integration and job placement, strengthening alliances with the private sector built in 2013.

In Ecuador, the majority of refugees are interested in local integration, while a significant percentage is interested in resettlement in a third country. The Office will support government efforts to reach durable solutions; and advocate the right to work, social security, health and education. UNHCR will focus on access to resettlement, local integration, including alternative migratory solutions and voluntary repatriation with the goals of re-opening protection space and enhancing livelihood opportunities for refugees. The right to asylum and the fight against discrimination remain essential cross-cutting advocacy and communication goals.

Within the challenging environment in the northern triangle of Central America and the repercussions in Mexico, UNHCR plays a critical role to ensure international protection. The goal for the Office is to keep the door open for asylum, ensuring that asylum-seekers, both from within the continent (principally, from Central America), as well as other refugees mainly from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, are able to access the territory. The Office will work to ensure that people of concern area identified within migratory flows, informed about their rights, and have access to fair and efficient asylum procedures. Major protection challenges include the risk of human trafficking, special protection needs of unaccompanied children, alternatives to detention and the legal status of stateless people.

UNHCR's regional office in Panama, which covers Central America and Cuba, faces a shift in displacement trends caused by transnational organized crime in Central America.

While the number of asylum claims from other continents has decreased, there is a sharp increase in the numbers of people of concern from Central American countries. Particular efforts will be made to enhance asylum systems and the quality of protection afforded to those in need, and to promote the adoption of protection-sensitive policies on mixed migration movements. To achieve durable solutions for refugees, the Office will focus on the needs of the most vulnerable. UNHCR will work with all the UN agencies at regional level and with UN Country Teams in order to enhance international protection of asylum-seekers and refugees escaping transnational organized crime, and to raise awareness about new displacement patterns due to transnational organized crime.

UNHCR will provide technical support to concerned Governments in assessing displacement trends in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Despite reparation and land restitution developments in Colombia, refugees continue to cross into the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela regularly. UNHCR's main objective is to increase their access to effective and fair government-managed asylum procedures, including by expanding outreach capacity and increasing the effectiveness of national registration processes.

| Financial information |

UNHCR's operational budget for the Americas has remained relatively stable during the last five years. In 2015, increased needs are determined by the new regional initiative for the protection of forcibly displaced populations in Central America and Mexico, with financial requirements for the subregion standing at USD 95.3 million.

UNHCR 2015 budgets for Latin America (USD)
Operation 2014
Revised budget
(as of 30 June 2014)
Total 90,199,086 64,144,918 810,726 30,360,765 95,316,409
1. Includes activities in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
2. Includes the Regional Legal Unit in Costa Rica.
3. Regional activities cover the entire Americas region.
Argentina Regional Office[1] 4,304,636 4,696,038 73,035 0 4,769,073
Brazil 8,197,880 6,913,141 185,717 0 7,098,857
Colombia 30,540,097 1,289,231 0 30,360,765 31,649,996
Costa Rica 2,885,871 3,134,757 0 0 3,134,757
Ecuador 21,010,276 22,514,110 0 0 22,514,110
Mexico 2,943,463 4,088,576 0 0 4,088,576
Panama Regional Office[2] 8,429,731 9,627,586 551,975 0 10,179,561
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 10,950,133 10,950,134 0 0 10,950,134
Regional Activities[3] 937,000 931,345 0 0 931,345

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update

UNHCR contact information

The UNHCR Representation in Mexico
Style of Address The UNHCR Representative in Mexico
Street Address Cervantes Saavedra 193, Oficina 1402, Col. Granada, Mexico D.F., 11520 Mexico, Mexico
Mailing Address Cervantes Saavedra 193, Oficina 1402, Col. Granada, Mexico D.F., 11520 Mexico, Mexico
Telephone 52 55 50 83 17 15
Time Zone GMT + -6
Working Hours
Monday:8:30 - 16:30
Tuesday:8:30 - 16:30
Wednesday:8:30 - 16:30
Thursday:8:30 - 16:30
Friday:8:30 - 16:30
Public Holidays 01 January 2015, Ano Nuevo
02 February 2015, Mexican Constitution
02 April 2015, Jueves Santo
03 April 2015, Viernes Santo
01 May 2015, Dia del Trabajo
17 July 2015, Eid Al-Fitr
16 September 2015, Independence Day
23 September 2015, Eid Al-Adha
16 November 2015, Recolucion mexicana
25 December 2015, Christmas Day
The UHHCR Field Office in Tapachula
Style of Address The UNHCR Field Office in Tapachula
Street Address 21 Oriente No. 22 entre 9a y 11a Av Norte, Col. Lomas del Soconusco, CP 30725 Tapachula, Chiapas, Tapachula, CHPS, Mexico
Mailing Address Prolongacion Central Oriente s/n, Plaza Kamico, local 5 y 6, Tapachula, CHPS, Mexico
Telephone 52 962 642 5198
Facsimile 52 962 642 5200
Time Zone GMT + 3
Working Hours
Monday:08:30 - 16:00
Tuesday:08:30 - 16:00
Wednesday:08:30 - 16:00
Thursday:08:30 - 16:00
Friday:08:30 - 16:00
Comments Mexican States: Chiapas, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Veracruz


Statistical Snapshot*
* As at July 2014
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained. In the absence of Government figures, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in many industrialized countries based on 10 years of individual asylum-seeker recognition.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the asylum procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2014. Source: country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and assistance. It also includes people in IDP-like situations. This category is descriptive in nature and includes groups of persons who are inside their country of nationality or habitual residence and who face protection risks similar to those of IDPs but who, for practical or other reasons, could not be reported as such.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2014.
  7. Refers to persons who are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. This category refers to persons who fall under the agency's statelessness mandate because they are stateless according to this international definition, but data from some countries may also include persons with undetermined nationality.
  8. Refers to individuals who do not necessarily fall directly into any of the other groups but to whom UNHCR may extend its protection and/or assistance services. These activities might be based on humanitarian or other special grounds.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Mexico [1]
Refugees [2] 1,831
Asylum Seekers [3] 2,192
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 13
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 4,036
Originating from Mexico [1]
Refugees [2] 9,401
Asylum Seekers [3] 13,172
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 22,573
Government Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2000
More info 1,025,000
As at 15 January 2015
2013 25,000
2012 25,000
2011 50,000
2010 75,000
More info 100,000
Total contribution in USD: 100,000 (rank: 41)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 100,000 (rank: 29)
Donor ranking per GDP: 54
Donor ranking per capita: 54
More info 101,905
Total contribution in USD: 101,905 (rank: 41)
Total contribution in currency: 3215 (MXN); 101,608 (USD)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 101,905 (rank: 32)
Donor ranking per GDP: 43
Donor ranking per capita: 42
More info 103,479
Total contribution in USD: 103,479 (rank: 45)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 100,000 (rank: 29)
Donor ranking per GDP: 43
Donor ranking per capita: 43
More info 101,748
Total contribution in USD: 101,748 (rank: 68)
Total contribution in currency: 101,649 (USD); 2,937 (MXN)
Unrestricted contribution (USD): 100,000 (rank: 36)
Donor ranking per GDP: 38
Donor ranking per capita: 38
More info 101,747
USD 101,747 of which USD 100,000 (98%) unrestricted and USD 1,747 (2%) earmarked at the country level.
More info 100,000
USD 100,000 of which 100% was unrestricted.
More info 100,000
USD 100,000 of which 100% was unrestricted.
More info 100,311
USD 100,311 of which 100% unrestricted.
More info 103,446
USD 103,446 of which 100% unrestricted.
More info 102,500
USD 102,500 of which 100,000 (98%) unrestricted and 2,500 (2%) earmarked.
Private Sector Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2006
More info 10,074
As at 15 January 2015
2013 12,444
2012 19,472
2011 11,670
2010 0
2009 0
2008 0
2007 0
2006 0

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