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Countries commit to work together on refugee protection at Caribbean Migration Consultations

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Nassau, The Bahamas – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, applauds the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas for its leadership role hosting the second meeting of the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC), a regional platform developed to address common challenges related to increasing flows of refugees and migrants arriving in the region. 

“Close cooperation among the countries of the Caribbean is the key to addressing flows of refugees and migrants in ways that are safe and humane, and the Caribbean region is setting standards for other parts of the world in its approach to this issue,” said Matthew Reynolds, UNHCR Regional Representative for the United States and the Caribbean.

At the two-day meeting on December 5-6, delegations from 18 countries, CARICOM, the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration discussed developments in the region related to refugee protection and statelessness.

Country delegates described the progress made over the last year, including good practices in developing refugee legislation and standard operating procedures, alternatives to immigration detention, the integration of refugees into host communities, and the development of innovative approaches among diverse stakeholders to respond to large-scale forced displacement. UNHCR presented a Checklist for a Comprehensive Asylum System, and provided an overview of identity management and registration mechanisms.

“The Government of The Bahamas was delighted to be given the opportunity to host the second CMC,” said Jewel Major, Chief Counsel at the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.  “To be a leader in this discussion regionally is a privilege and we hope to continue to provide leadership that motivates and stimulates our region,” said Major.

Consistent with global trends, a rising number of people fleeing life-threatening violence and persecution have sought protection in the Caribbean in recent years. The registered population of refugees and asylum-seekers in the region has risen by more than 50 percent from January 2017 to November 2017, underscoring the urgency for governments to develop coordinated policies that effectively address new challenges, such as forced displacement as a result of natural disasters.

“The countries and communities that receive and host refugees are the mainstays of the international protection regime, and their generosity is truly remarkable,” said UNHCR’s Reynolds.Following the commitments made in the Brazil Plan of Action, a regional protection framework for the Caribbean and Latin America, Caribbean countries established the CMC in 2016 as a State-led process to promote consistent approaches towards mixed migration.  

All States participating in this year’s meeting agreed that their active engagement in this regional forum presented an important achievement and that cooperation was essential to address the challenge of refugee protection and mixed migration.


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Young people debate LGBTI issues for the first time at MUN event in Trinidad and Tobago

For the first time in the Caribbean, young adults from secondary schools across the Caribbean area met in Port of Spain to simulate a debate of the United Nations General Assembly. 50 member states were represented by young men and women, who researched their positions on the rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex persons.

For two days the delegates exchanged sometimes passionate dialogue on the issue. Some delegates pleaded with the Assembly to recall the founding of the Organisation and what it stands for- including the equal rights of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation. Others, despite their personal belief, stood firm on the UN Charter's recognition of the sovereign rights of their  states even if it meant discriminating against LGBTI persons. Middle Eastern states supported the proposal by some African states delegates that Western states should create opportunities for LGBTI persons to migrate freely to escape discrimination in their respective regions. They agreed in principle that all human beings should have equal rights, but believed that cultural and religious belief could not permit them to adopt such liberal 'western' concepts.

The Debate ended on a positive note, with most states conceding to implement mechanisms that investigated human rights abuses against LGBTI persons and look forward to further dialogue on a mutually acceptable way forward. 

President of the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain, congratulated the young people, their parents and financial supporters for choosing to opt in for the dialogue on this issue, which by and large remains taboo in the Caribbean or otherwise not encouraged. She also saw this as the beginning of the shifting of paradigms on equality and non-discrimination.

This year the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain, celebrated 20 years of organising and hosting Model United Nations simulations.
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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago




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