Mexico's tiny refugee agency turns to U.N. amid asylum surge, funding cuts

Young journalists club

News ID: 39737
Publish Date: 18:51 - 22 May 2019
TEHRAN, May 22 - Buckling under surging asylum applications and the lowest budget in years, Mexico's tiny refugee agency has turned to the United Nations for help opening three new offices across the country starting next month, its director said on Tuesday.

Mexico's tiny refugee agency turns to U.N. amid asylum surge, funding cutsTEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Mexico is on track for 60,000 asylum application this year, double 2018 applications, said Andres Ramirez, the head of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR).

The increase is a result of a surge in people leaving Central America, along with Cuba and countries further afield.

The number of undocumented migrants reaching the U.S. border is the highest in a decade, triggering threats from U.S. President Donald Trump to punish Mexico if it does not do more to stop the flows.

Ramirez, who served 28 years with the U.N. refugee agency before joining the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said COMAR was so overwhelmed he had turned to his former employer for help.

"We at COMAR are simply trying to survive," said Ramirez in an interview with Reuters.

As well as the rising number of applications, which have doubled for three consecutive years, COMAR is facing its lowest funding in seven years, with a budget of $1.2 million, as the government tries to meet austere fiscal targets.

"Our central issue is a concern with resources - we are fighting for them, we are struggling for them - but we can't self-finance, we don't have the capacity in our hands alone to revolve this," said Ramirez.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is offering financial support and staff that will enable COMAR to open offices to deal with the surge, he said.

The first new office will be in the northern border city of Tijuana, then Monterrey, and Palenque in the southern border state of Chiapas where the vast majority of mainly Central American migrants cross into Mexico from Guatemala.

The new offices would double COMAR's current number. Ramirez said the UNHCR support included the secondment of about 30 people to supplement COMAR's 48-person staff nationwide.

The UNHCR in Mexico did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Reuters

mexico ، US ، UN ، refugees
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