Vulnerable Migrants Support

From December 2014, with the purpose of providing a safe, legal and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that some unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents were doing to the north of the continent, the US government, through various portfolios of State, supports the assistance and protection of this population group in coordination with IOM.

With the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), IOM strengthened government capacity in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to assist, care for and protect returning unaccompanied migrant children and families to the Central American Northern Triangle. This was achieved through the provision of post arrival immediate assistance to returning families and children; the renewal of infrastructure and equipment of reception centers; training to partners that assist children and adolescents and their families; awareness activities; and by optimizing data collection and exchange of information among governments, donors, humanitarian agencies and civil society.

Also, with its own funds, IOM invests in strengthening government institutions that are guarantors of the rights of children and adolescents through the support of the development of Comprehensive Care Plans for Returned Children, and protection measures in their family environments from a Human rights perspective. IOM provides technical and financial support for Care Centers for Children, Youth and Family (CANAF) in El Salvador; and it contributes to the development of methodologies for psychosocial assistance to unaccompanied children. It supports local coordination for the identification, referral and incorporation of children in need of assistance into institutional programs. In Honduras, IOM provides technical support for strengthening the administration of the Care Center for Migrant Children and Families (CANFM-Bethlehem).

IOM also addresses the particular needs of vulnerable migrants through several regional projects including the Mesoamerican Program, funded by State Department through the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). The aim of the Mesoamerica Program is to strengthen the capacities of state institutions and civil society organizations for the protection and assistance of migrants in a vulnerable situation from a gender and human rights focus.

In addition, with the support of the Organization of American States (OAS), IOM runs the Program for Prevention of Crimes Linked to Irregular Migration, which aims to prevent irregular migration especially in areas with high propensity to emigration. This is done with a focus on protection of rights of migrants particularly vulnerable groups through the development and updating of regulatory frameworks, involving civil society, creation and strengthening of institutional capacities in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

While numbers of estimated victims of trafficking worldwide vary, they are reported as being in the millions and most importantly, they are constantly on the rise. Moreover, estimates often do not include individuals who are victims within the borders of their own countries.

Organized criminal groups are earning billions of dollars in profits from trafficking and exploiting people - many of whom are victims of severe human rights violations.

Trafficked persons are often victims to abuse such as rape, torture, debt bondage, unlawful confinement and threats against their family or other persons close to them, as well as other forms of physical, sexual and psychological violence. The demand for cheap labour, sexual services and certain criminal activities are among the root causes of trafficking while a lack of opportunity, resources and social standing are other contributing factors.

At IOM, we operate from the outset that trafficking in persons needs to be approached within the overall context of managing migration. Our broad range of activities is implemented in partnership with governmental institutions, NGOs and international organizations. The approach is based on three principles that govern all our counter-trafficking activities:

  • Respect for human rights
  • Physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and his or her community
  • Sustainability through institutional capacity building of governments and civil society

IOM has been working to counter the trafficking in persons since 1994. In this time, we have assisted approximately 70,000 trafficked persons. Our primary aims are to prevent trafficking in persons and to protect victims from the trade while offering them options of safe and sustainable reintegration and/or return to their home countries.

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