America’s own refugee crisis prompts UN call to action

Europe isn’t the only region facing a refugee crisis. Rising levels of violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – the so-called ‘Northern Triangle’ – is causing displacement in Central and North America, said Renata Dubini, Director of the UN Refugee Agency’s Bureau for the Americas.

With US President-elect Donald Trump preparing mass deportations, the situation looks set to get worse, Dubini warned in an interview with euractiv.com.

The United Nations official was in Brussels to meet European Union stakeholders – and to call for the EU to support the region, stepping up its protection response for refugee children, and families, in the Northern Triangle.

Dubini highlighted that tens of thousands of people have sought asylum in the United States, with others fleeing to Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama. They are fleeing widespread criminal activity, especially sexual and gender-based violence.

She said the UNHCR considers the current situation in Central America to be what the UN terms a ‘protection crisis’ – a situation which now demands additional human and financial resources to deploy a rapid and adequate infrastructure for refugee children and families.

The data has a different profile compared against the EU’s refugee influx. The UNHCR confirms there were 31,072 new asylum applications from the Northern Triangle in the first six months of 2016. This is set in a context of 224,160 displaced people during 2004-2014, including those internally displaced.

In a startling shift, the agency reports a 565% increase in asylum applications in the first half of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015.

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