Mexico Plan of Action for refugees is world’s most sophisticated, UN refugee chief says
Reviewing the landmark Mexico Plan of Action to safeguard refugees in Latin America, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres said it is the world’s most sophisticated instrument to protect and help those fleeing their homes and their countries.
"The spirit of solidarity between neighbours is the best guarantee for refugees," he told ambassadors and government delegates at a meeting at the UN complex in Geneva on the blueprint endorsed last November by 20 Latin American Governments.
"The plan makes a crucial link between internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees – protection and durable solutions for one group must include the other – and elaborates practical methods to assist the internally displaced. This must happen within the UN collaborative approach and will require commitment, clear thinking and additional funding,” he said.
Set against the 40-year old conflict in Colombia, which has forced the displacement of over 3 million men, women and children inside and outside the country, the Mexico Plan of Action proposes concrete measures, including working to achieve self-sufficiency and local integration in the cities.
It would also stimulate social and economic development in border areas to benefit refugees and the local population, and establish a programme of resettlement in Latin America as a way to ease pressure on those countries receiving large numbers of refugees.
In addition, the action-oriented plan would improve the asylum systems and the protection capacity of governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), using such programmes as updated training for border authorities.
Discussions are continuing on the content of new draft legislation on asylum and on refugee status determination procedures with the authorities of Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama and Uruguay, it said.
With regard to resettlement, Argentina signed an agreement with UNHCR in June 2005 and was scheduled to welcome about 40 Colombian refugees currently in Ecuador and Costa Rica before the end of the year. Among other moves forward, Chile was hosting some 100 resettled refugees from Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Iraq, Colombia and Cuba, UNHCR said.