Operation: Opération: Mexico



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Key Figures

2019 planning figures
10,000 people of concern will be accommodated in shelters
6,300 households will receive multipurpose cash-based assistance
6,000 people of concern will receive support to access to formal employment 
5,700 people of concern will receive legal assistance
2017 year-end results
31,720 individuals were informed on their right to seek asylum 
7,730 people of concern received cash-based assistance
5,490  people of concern were accommodated in shelters supported by UNHCR
1,290 people of concern were released from detention

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2018 165,506
2017 19,398
2016 8,862


[["Refugees",16549],["Asylum-seekers",23847],["Stateless",13],["Others of concern",82993],["Venezuelans displaced abroad",42104]]
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2018 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[2.99046312,4.08857563,12.51904304,14.73228739,24.30978926,59.80065569],"expenditure":[1.99483238,2.62872464,6.73662723,9.61744232,16.91172776,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[2.99046312,4.08857563,12.51904304,14.73228739,24.30978926,59.80065569],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[1.99483238,2.62872464,6.73662723,9.61744232,16.91172776,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational context 

In 2018, three main developments affected the working environment in Mexico.
The unexpected increase in the number of people seeking asylum, primarily due to the deterioration of the situation in Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela coupled with people seeking asylum in Mexico instead of continuing further.
Large-scale arrivals through the so-called caravans, large-scale movements of refugees and migrants on the move towards Mexico and the United States of America. In 2018, more than 8,000 people fled their countries within these caravans, eventually leading to UNHCR declaring a Level 2 emergency in Mexico. The Government requested UNHCR’s support in identifying and assisting people in need of international protection.
The elections held in July 2018 resulted in a new administration, which brings a new approach to asylum and migration. The new Government presented in December 2018 the New Migration Policy, coinciding with Mexico facilitation of the Migration Global Compact. The new Policy is guided by a human rights approach and the regional cooperation. Mexico has been elected as President pro tempore of the MIRPS.  
The Government also took steps to include refugees and asylum-seekers in the 2030 Agenda and the 2018 Voluntary National Review mechanism that assesses States’ implementation of the SDGs.

Population trends

In 2018, the population of concern to UNHCT stood at some 165,500. At year-end, the total number of asylum-seekers was 23,850, which represents a 264% increase compared to the beginning of the year.
According to UNHCR analysis, only 30% of the asylum-seekers during the last three months of the year were part of the caravans.

Key achievements

UNHCR enhanced the provision of information on asylum procedures and legal assistance to asylum-seekers through the expansion of civil society networks with legal staff. Thanks to this effort, 30,000 people have been informed on their right to seek asylum.
To strengthen COMAR’s registration capacity, UNHCR supported them through the deployment of registration and protection staff, which allowed the increased registration capacity in Baja California, Mexico City and Tapachula. To avoid and mitigate detention, through the alternatives to detention programme, 5,500 asylum-seekers were released from detention by year-end.
UNHCR expanded the use of cash-based interventions in Mexico, distributing almost double the amount from 2017. UNHCR provided over 3,200 vulnerable families with reloadable prepaid cards, helping them to provide for their shelter, water and hygiene, food and clothing needs. This in turn helped in establishing livelihoods and reducing protection risks derived from negative coping mechanisms.
Building on the success of a well-established local integration initiative in Mexico, UNHCR and partners provided job placement services and psychosocial and legal support to refugees who were relocated from southern Mexico to local integration zones in Coahuila and Jalisco States, where many were employed in local manufacturing.
UNHCR launched the “Best Interests Procedures Guidelines”, which will be rolled out in the region in 2019. A specific project on education and protection for children on the move was implemented as part of the MIRPS in Mexico.

Unmet needs

Despite improved funding levels in the second half of the year, the small capacity of implementation meant that UNHCR was unable to effectively support the structural investments in host communities in Southern Mexico, mainly in Chiapas and Tabasco. Due to the very limited absorption capacity, many people of concern were unable to access public services, education and health in particular, which triggers a situation of vulnerability for those residing in host communities.
In order to facilitate local integration, the Saltillo model would need to be replicated in other municipalities in order to harmonize refugees’ access to formal employment and local integration opportunities. This entails a significant investment in capacity building and sensitization of public and private actors.

Working environment

The main drivers of forced displacement will continue, resulting in increasing numbers of people fleeing violence in the North of Central America (NCA) to Mexico. A greater number of people will decide to remain in Mexico, in particular in urban centres. As a result of immigration enforcement measures in Mexico and the United States of America, security risks are likely to evolve due to the presence of criminal organizations along migration routes. The increasing cost of travel North, will continue to affect people’s decision to remain in Mexico.
Mexico is a CRRF roll-out country in which the Government has agreed to implement the high standards of protection, and implement innovative solutions for refugees. This includes strengthening the refugee status determination (RSD) procedure based on international standards and the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees (COMAR) presence in regions with a high number of asylum claims; developing information campaigns about the right to seek asylum; strengthening the newly-established child protection authorities, and increasing efforts to improve identification of protection needs of unaccompanied and separated children; promoting dialogue with Governments of the region; implementing alternatives to detention; and promoting the socio-economic inclusion of refugees. UNHCR’s priority in the coming years is to strategically align its actions to the Government’s CRRF commitments and to provide technical support where needed. As such, the Office has aligned its multi-year,   multi-partner strategy’s strategic objectives to the four pillars of the CRRF.

Key priorities

In 2018, UNHCR will focus on:
  • Ensuring that refugees have access to territory, asylum procedures and the full range of rights. This will involve capacity-building activities targeting staff involved in refugee status determination, providing information to people of concern and seeking full implementation of the quality assurance mechanism;
  • Addressing the increasing number of asylum-seekers in Mexico, by improving reception conditions, strengthening the shelter capacity of , and by providing direct cash-based assistance while their refugee claims are being processed, helping to reduce the number of abandoned claims and increasing the number of people receiving the protection of refugee status.
  • Encouraging the inclusion of refugees in the national economy, in local and national programmes and services, and in mobilizing development interventions to support these efforts.
  • Advocating with the local authorities to ensure people of concern’ access to national programmes and services.  
Support the Mexican Government with the roll-out of the CRRF in the context of the New York Declaration. UNHCR will complement the efforts made by the Government for the protection of people of concern.
Latest contributions
  • 11-OCT-2019
    European Union
  • Netherlands
  • Liechtenstein
  • 10-OCT-2019
  • 07-OCT-2019
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 03-OCT-2019
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 02-OCT-2019
  • Germany
  • 30-SEP-2019

    private donors

  • United States of America

    private donors

  • Netherlands

    private donors

  • France

    private donors

  • Mexico

    private donors

  • Italy

    private donors

  • Spain

    private donors

  • Kuwait
  • Denmark
  • Philippines

    private donors

  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    private donors

  • Republic of Korea

    private donors