North America and the Caribbean
Operational information on the North America and Caribbean subregion is presented below. A summary of this can also be downloaded in PDF format. This subregion covers the following countries:
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Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion North America and the Caribbean
People of Concern - 2017[["Refugees",392996],["Asylum-seekers",701455],["Returned refugees",2],["Stateless",6092],["Others of concern",2794]]
Response in 2017As circumstances forcing flight out of Central America continued unabated in 2017, the number of asylum claims filed in the United States surpassed 2016 figures and subsequently increased the refugee status determination backlog. While the United States tightened its border control, access to territory and asylum procedures remained open. Along the border with Mexico, UNHCR assessed the state of asylum-seekers’ access to legal representation. The Office sought to engage the new Administration and other stakeholders on responses to surges at the border, including with a High-Level Dialogue. Canada’s asylum system also faced a significant increase of claims of diverse origin, which was largely coped with thanks to response measures taken at federal and provincial levels. In the meantime, the introduction of a refugee legislation reform was postponed in favour of a comprehensive independent review of the asylum system.
UNHCR continued to engage with the Governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States in the Regional Asylum Capacity-Building Initiative (RACBI), facilitating capacity-building exchanges among States to strengthen their asylum systems. Montreal hosted the annual convening of the RACBI parties and UNHCR advocated to expand this capacity-building effort to other countries of asylum, in line with the regional CRRF (Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework) for Central America and Mexico, known as MIRPS in its Spanish acronym.
The deteriorating situation in Venezuela resulted in unprecedented protection challenges for the steadily increasing numbers of Venezuelans seeking protection and assistance in the Southern Caribbean, where UNHCR is responsible for registration, documentation and refugee status determination. Responding to instances of reported refoulement and detention, UNHCR has worked with authorities and partners to strengthen reception and asylum access, as well as supporting the provision of housing, healthcare and education. UNHCR responded to host Governments’ increased demands for capacity-building, legal advice and emergency preparedness support.
Statelessness is largely invisible in Canada and the United States due to limited availability of baseline data, which results in lack of awareness and adequate legal options. The Caribbean continues to be confronted with a large stateless population and their associated protection needs. The region progressed towards ending statelessness with Haiti’s Parliament deciding to accede to the Statelessness Conventions and Cuba adopting legal measures to prevent statelessness. In the Dominican Republic, UNHCR and the authorities continued progressing in issuing civil documents to Dominican-born individuals of foreign descent. Since the adoption of Law 169 in 2014, more than 20,000 individuals have been issued civil documents by the end of 2017
Within the Global Campaign “Beyond Detention”, Canada has progressed towards finalising its national framework on alternatives to detention and developed tools to determine the best interest of the child. Even with increased arrivals, immigration-enforcement detention has decreased, and policy changes intend to further reduce detention. Alternatives to detention were also sought and facilitated across the Caribbean, where UNHCR trained civil society partners of the International Detention Coalition from the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
OperationsCanada received nearly 27,000 refugees in 2017, two thirds of which were privately sponsored, surpassing its annual target of 25,000. The Government focused on strengthening integration services for resettled refugees and reducing timelines for private sponsors. Canada and UNHCR continued cooperating within the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) to support emerging resettlement countries in the Americas in developing tailor-made community-based sponsorship programs.
Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy makes women’s and girls’ empowerment and gender equality the cornerstone of Canada’s foreign policy. UNHCR welcomed this development and appealed to expand support to address specific needs and allow for resettlement of additional vulnerable refugee women.
Operational Environment and Strategy
While Canada has traditionally been an important leader in advancing refugee protection and assistance globally, recently it has also served as a model domestically by welcoming thousands of refugees, notably Syrians. It has also increased its political and financial support to a number of refugee operations, particularly in the areas of refugee education and the protection and empowerment of refugee women and girls. The Government has committed to assisting other States in developing alternative pathways for the admission of refugees, including through private sponsorship programmes based on the Canadian model, as well as building capacity in asylum processing.
In the United States of America, UNHCR will focus on maintaining political and financial support for its global programmes by the Government and Congress, with a view to maximizing access to protection and solutions for people of concern; raising public awareness about refugees and their plight; and promoting favourable protection environments in the United States of America and in Caribbean countries. UNHCR will also continue to highlight the protection needs of people arriving at the southern border of the United States of America from Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Central America; promote alternatives to detention; advocate access to fair and effective RSD procedures; and support the robust resettlement programme, seeking to enhance opportunities for vulnerable refugees through better placement, programming and more effective evaluation of integration outcomes.
In the Dominican Republic, UNHCR will continue to work with the Government to find solutions for the large segment of the population at risk of statelessness by providing legal assistance and identifying and registering the stateless population.
Countries and territories in the Caribbean continue to experience complex mixed movements that involve people who may be in need of international protection moving alongside economic migrants, and the region has become a transit point for asylum-seekers trying to reach North America. Caribbean States and territories remain committed to enhancing protection standards within the framework of the Brazil Plan of Action and UNHCR will continue to work closely with them to enhance refugee protection as well as to foster solidarity and responsibility-sharing within the Caribbean.
UNHCR has also developed a 2016-2020 protection strategy to support Caribbean States and territories to strengthen protection and solutions, including through: enhanced screening and identification in the context of mixed movements; the adoption of national asylum procedures and/or measures to facilitate access to refugee status determination; the establishment of adequate reception arrangements; exploring alternatives to detention; efforts to provide local integration; as well as measures to eradicate statelessness.
Response and Implementation
UNHCR will work to sustain political commitment and public engagement in Canada, both in terms of ensuring the asylum system is accessible and efficient and enhancing resettlement opportunities. UNHCR will support Canada’s protection system and continue to advocate for a reduction in the use of detention. In addition, UNHCR will seek to highlight elements of the Canadian asylum and resettlement models - including private sponsorship schemes – as good practices for other countries, as a means to expand protection capacities and solutions in those countries.
2017 Budget and Expenditure in North America and the Caribbean | USD
|United States of America Regional Office||Budget|
2017 Voluntary Contributions to North America and the Caribbean | USD
|Earmarking / Donor||Pillar 1
|United States of America Regional Office|
|International Organization for Migration||0||689,792||689,792|
|United States of America||615,868||0||615,868|
|United States of America Regional Office subtotal||615,868||2,196,673||2,812,541|