Belize has received the largest foreign population in relation to the total population, since 1983 and is also concurrently experiencing high emigration rates.
In 2000, immigrants in Belize accounted for 14.8 percent of the total population. This migrant population has made important contributions to the development of Belize. In fact, the country is based on its ethnic and cultural diversity, which is the result of migration. Migrant populations in Belize require health, education and basic services. The Belizean authorities have taken important strides in regularizing foreigners through the granting of temporary work permits and citizenship. Still, the management of immigration in Belize remains a major challenge for the Government, especially in terms of achieving integration and social cohesion.
Additionally, around 15 percent of the population that was born in Belize currently lives abroad. This population, through its remittances, has contributed to the development of both their families and the national well-being. However, this strong emigration also costs Belize in terms of reduced capabilities, limited workforce, social disintegration and family relations, among others. Belize faces the enormous challenge of approaching their communities abroad, involving them in the development of the country and providing them with the services they need both abroad and upon their return to Belize.
IOM has been collaborating with the Government in projects that work to document its citizens, in particular through the establishment of a secure passports issuance systems, combined with a biometric subsystem for duplicate identity checking. Projects have also been implemented to strengthen the fight against trafficking in persons and to improve government capacities for migration management.
For more information on IOM’s activities in Belize, visit the website of the IOM Regional Office for Central and North America and the Caribbean in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Facts and Figures: February 2016