IOM Launches Reconstruction of Migrant Reception Center in El Salvador


El Salvador - IOM, in coordination with the Government of El Salvador, held a groundbreaking ceremony for the reconstruction of the Migrant Reception Center in San Salvador called “Centro de Atención al Migrante (La Chacra)”.

Under the mandate of the Directorate General of Migration (DGME in Spanish), the reception center receives approximately 233 persons per day, including unaccompanied children, families and adult migrants returning from Mexico.

Through a major reconstruction of the facilities it is expected that the reception center will increase its capacity by approximately 75 per cent to receive and process land arrivals. Reconstruction works include the redistribution of existing spaces for better circulation and flow, and the creation of environments suitable for the reception of migrants.

"We hope that the new infrastructure will raise the number of beneficiaries considerably, and provide them with adequate and timely care; the project also includes capacity-building trainings with government institutions for continual improvement of services,” stated Jorge Peraza, Chief of Mission, IOM El Salvador.

The programme "Comprehensive assistance to returning families and unaccompanied children in the Northern Triangle of Central America", with USD 7.5 million funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is investing approximately USD 900,000 for the upgraded reception center that will have a dedicated waiting area to accommodate 200 people, two medical rooms and the screening of patients by the Ministry of Health (MINSAL); ten cubicles for migratory and registration interviews carried out by DGME; consular services by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a dedicated space for interviews and handling special cases by the National Police as well as an adequate area for the distribution of immediate basic humanitarian assistance.

One of the spaces will be assigned for psychosocial care for children and adolescent migrant returnees, through areas tailored for individual and group activities led by the National Council for Childhood and Adolescence (CONNA) and the Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents (ISNA).

From August 2014 to May 2015, IOM, in coordination with the Salvadoran Government has delivered much needed immediate assistance (food, clothing and transport) to 4,463 migrant returnees, families, unaccompanied children and adolescents. IOM has also encouraged protection for returning migrants through capacity building trainings of public officials on issues related to migrant care; and it has consistently improved data collection to better understand the migratory flow in the Northern Triangle of Central America.

"The path we offer is not always the best way, through the penitentiary system, but must rather be the path of opportunities, of education, of employment," said Benito Lara, Minister of Justice and Public Security as part of the commitments of his country. Hugo Martínez, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Héctor Rodríguez, Director General of Immigration; Michael Barkin, DCM US Embassy and Adam Schmidt, USAID Deputy Mission Director also attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

Once the construction works are completed, IOM expects that the reception center will raise the standards of care for migrant returnees, especially the most vulnerable. “High quality standards will make El Salvador a point of reference as a guarantor of protection of families, children and adolescent migrant returnees,” said Cleo Hennessy, Regional Programme Manager. Government officials working at the reception center will also benefit from a modern, comfortable and secure infrastructure.

For further information please contact IOM El Salvador, Cleo Hennessy, Tel: +503 2521-0523, Email:, or Natalia Zepeda, Tel: +503 2521-0545 Email:

Benito Lara, Minister of Justice and Public Security, emphasized the importance of the center to migrant children and adolescents. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Justice