PRESS RELEASE - 12 DECEMBER 2017
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.