UN pushes for mi­grants to be called refugees

The Covington News - - WORLD -

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — United Na­tions of­fi­cials are push­ing for many of the Cen­tral Amer­i­cans flee­ing to the U.S. to be treated as refugees dis­placed by armed con­flict, a des­ig­na­tion meant to in­crease pres­sure on the United States and Mex­ico to ac­cept tens of thou­sands of people cur­rently in­el­i­gi­ble for asy­lum.

Of­fi­cials with the U.N. High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees say they hope to see move­ment to­ward a re­gional agree­ment on that sta­tus Thurs­day when mi­gra­tion and in­te­rior depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the U.S., Mex­ico, and Cen­tral Amer­ica meet in Nicaragua. The group will dis­cuss up­dat­ing a 30-year-old dec­la­ra­tion re­gard­ing the obli­ga­tions that na­tions have to aid refugees.

While such a res­o­lu­tion would lack any le­gal weight, the agency said it be­lieves “the U.S. and Mex­ico should rec­og­nize that this is a refugee sit­u­a­tion, which im­plies that they shouldn’t be au­to­mat­i­cally sent to their home coun­tries but rather re­ceive in­ter­na­tional pro­tec­tion.”

Most of the people widely con­sid­ered to be refugees by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity are flee­ing more tra­di­tional po­lit­i­cal or eth­nic con­flicts like those in Syria or the Sudan. Cen­tral Amer­i­cans would be among the first mod­ern mi­grants con­sid­ered refugees be­cause they are flee­ing vi­o­lence and ex­tor­tion at the hands of crim­i­nal gangs.

Cen­tral Amer­ica’s North­ern Tri­an­gle of Gu­atemala, El Sal­vador and Hon­duras has be­come one of the most vi­o­lent re­gions on earth in re­cent years, with swathes of all three coun­tries un­der the con­trol of drug traf­fick­ers and street gangs who rob, rape and ex­tort or­di­nary cit­i­zens with im­punity.

Hon­duras, a pri­mary tran­sit point for U.S.-bound co­caine, has the world’s high­est homi­cide rate for a na­tion that is not at war. Hon­durans who are used to hid­ing in­doors at night have been ter­ror­ized anew in re­cent months by a wave of at­tacks against churches, schools and buses.

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