Central American Governments Strengthen Capacities to Protect Migrant Workers

Posted: 
09/14/18
Themes: 
Capacity Building

Guatemala City – About 40 officials from central and local governments of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico this week (12/09) convened in Guatemala to discuss how to enhance their capacities to protect migrant workers. The event was organized by the UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The participants, working in their governments in the sectors of migration, labour, foreign relations and national, received training on how the information on rights and fair contracting contribute to the protection of people who migrate in search of work, to improve their economic conditions and those of their families.

Throughout the workshop, the participants revealed that the groups that register the most applications for visas and work permits in the four countries are: border workers (who live in border areas and cross them daily for the labour purposes), returned migrants, and refugees or asylum seekers.

The most significant challenges identified by the participants as risks faced by migrant workers are labour exploitation, unequal treatment in employment, little access to social security benefits, precariousness, and discrimination, especially against migrant domestic workers.

"The increase in international labour migration and the number of temporary migrant workers entail new challenges in the configuration of regional proposals on hiring, as well as on protection of rights, equitable access to opportunities, improvement of registrations and promulgation of new norms framed in international agreements," said Ambassador Arabella Woolfolk, Director General of Consular and Migratory Affairs, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala (MINEX) at the opening of the event.

“This region is one of the main migratory corridors in the world, it includes irregular routes and presence of smuggling and trafficking networks, with people taking advantage of the lack of information; these characteristics demand the search for solutions that respond to the needs and protection of labour migrants,” said Alexandra Bonnie, Regional Coordinator of IOM’s Mesoamerica Program.

“In 2018, a population of 258 million international migrants is estimated on the planet, representing 3.5 per cent of the world's population. Sixty-five per cent of these people are workers, so human mobility becomes a feature that is profoundly modifying the universe of work," said Ana Méndez Chicas, Guatemalan Coordinator of the REFRAME Project (Global Action to Improve the Framework of the Hiring of Migrant Workers) of the ILO.

IOM has made available to migrant populations, the MigrantApp, a mobile application that provides georeferenced information on immigration offices, health services, consular services, entry regulations, and work permits, among others. So far, it has been downloaded by about 10,000 users.

This Sub-Regional Workshop was organized by the Mesoamerica Program with the support of the Office of Population, Refuge, and Migration of the Department of State of the United States of America and the European Union through the REFRAME project of the ILO.

For more information, please contact Melissa Vega at IOM Guatemala. Tel: +502 2414-7401. Email: mevega@iom.int

  • Migrant workers in Central America face labour exploitation, unequal treatment in employment, little access to social security benefits, precariousness and discrimination. Photo: IOM / Melissa Vega