IOM Opens Migration Information Centre, Launches MigrantApp in Belize
Belmopan — IOM, the UN Migration Agency this week (18/04) in Belize, launched a Migration Information Centre and the MigrantApp, a mobile app which provides migrants with free and reliable information on regular migration options in Mesoamerica.
The Migration Information Centre – a collaboration with the Child Development Foundation (CDF) – will provide information and referral services to migrants on a variety of migratory procedures and raise awareness in key communities about the risks of irregular migration and trafficking in persons. The information hub is located at the CDF offices at 13th Garbutt Creek Street, Belmopan, Belize.
This is the 27th information centre opened by IOM in the Mesoamerica region.
The latest data on migration indicates that emigrants as a percentage of the Belizean population stands at 15 per cent, with the United States as the main destination, while immigrants represent 15.3 per cent of the total population in country, mainly coming from Central America.
However, lack of accurate and updated information about the demographics of the population and reasons for migration remains a challenge. One solution will be the Migration Survey supported by IOM that will take place as a preamble to the development of a National Migration Policy.
“Having an information centre in Belmopan where migrants can readily access information will promote smoother and more effective procedures. The information centre will also raise awareness in key migration communities through mobile hubs, for example, the first one in Benque Viejo Town, in May,” said Rene Chuc, Head of Office of IOM Belize.
IOM has provided extensive training to CDF staff in areas such as interview techniques, profiling migrants with special needs, identification and referral mechanism, trafficking in persons, migrants smuggling, among others.
This ongoing training is complemented with courses hosted at IOM’s Virtual Learning Platform on Migration (http://plataformadeaprendizaje.iom.int/) and meetings with Belizean institutions including the Labour Department, the Immigration Department, the Refugees Department and UNHCR.
“The sessions have been informative and well delivered. The information shared gave the staff a better understanding of the specific terminologies and basic concepts underpinning migration and role play exercises have allowed staff to understand how to interview migrants in situations of risk to best determine where to refer them to and what information they will need to address their migration concern,” said Diana Shaw, Director the Child Development Foundation.
Shaw added, “CDF is pleased to be a part of this initiative and is grateful for the capacity building by IOM which will go a long way to complement the services we currently provide.”
The event also served as a launch pad for the MigrantApp in Belize. The application is free of charge and provides information on services for migrants such as health centres, embassies and consulates, entry requirements for more than 40 nationalities, and has allowed IOM to send emergency alerts regarding natural or epidemic hazards.
"Together, both initiatives contribute to the promotion of regular and safe migration by making reliable information accessible to migrants. Through the establishment of a coordination mechanism between the Information Centre and key institutions, as well as by mapping key service providers in the MigrantApp, IOM seeks to contribute to the ongoing efforts to improve migration management in Belize," said Justin Scharf, IOM Project Assistant for the Mesoamerica Program.
These activities are part of the Mesoamerica Program, which seeks to contribute to the development and implementation of strategies for regular, orderly, and safe migration. The Mesoamerica Program is funded by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).
For further information please contact Justin Scharf at IOM Belize, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +501 223 9500