Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

EU to donate millions to help refugees in Latin America

The funding is to help refugees find living-wage jobs

Migrants line up behind an Honduran flag at the border crossing between Guatemala and Mexico in Tecun Uman, Guatemala. AP
Migrants line up behind an Honduran flag at the border crossing between Guatemala and Mexico in Tecun Uman, Guatemala. AP

The EU is donating €4 million (Dh15.9m) to help refugees in Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras find jobs and better integrate into society.

The announcement in Mexico City on Thursday came as the number of asylum seekers in the country has soared, with more than 70,300 people last year.

Almost 6,000 people applied for asylum in January, a 50 per cent increase over the same time last year.

Organisations will be involved in carrying out the three-year initiative, which aims to create more job opportunities and protections for asylum seekers.

In Mexico, the UN High Commission for Refugees has been working with government officials to place people in central and northern Mexico cities, where there are more jobs.

Migrants who have been granted asylum and therefore can legally work contributed 40.6m pesos (Dh8m) to the Mexican economy last year, the EU said.

Extreme violence, poverty, political conflict and food and medicine scarcity have driven tens of thousands of people to leave their home countries in Latin America and elsewhere around the world.

In Costa Rica nearly 60,000 migrants sought asylum last year.

Most are Nicaraguans who are highly educated and in professional fields.

Hundreds of Nicaraguans were killed and thousands injured during anti-government protests in 2018, in what human rights advocates said was an shocking crackdown on dissent.

The policies of US President Donald Trump have also made it extremely difficult for asylum seekers to find refuge in America, forcing many to stay in Mexico.

People who are granted asylum in Mexico are given permanent residency, meaning they can work and eventually become citizens.

Gerardina Gonzalez Marroquín, director of the International Labour Organisation for Mexico and Cuba, said the agreement on Thursday will fortify relationships between non-government groups that help migrants.

“We are absolutely convinced that working is the best form of social integration, that work dignifies a person, that work solves poverty, that work generates growth,” Ms Gonzalez Marroquín said.

“But not just any type of job.”

She said that refugees needed to find dignified work that pays a living wage and offers worker protections.

Updated: February 14, 2020 03:25 AM

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