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|2021 planning figures|
|5,000||asylum-seekers and refugees will have access to asylum|
|2,200||individuals will be resettled|
|43||shelters and information helpdesks will provide assistance and protection to people of concern|
|90%||of targeted refugees will receive cash support to meet basic needs|
Operational contextBy the end of 2021, Guatemala will host some 86,000 people of concern to UNHCR.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the economic prospects, heightened insecurity and exacerbated displacement across borders. Guatemala, principally a transit country, but also hosting over 1,500 asylum-seekers and refugees, saw an increased number of arrivals of people in search of protection. Guatemala also received individuals transferred from the United States of America in 2020 through the Asylum Cooperation Agreement signed in 2019, however, only 35 opted to seek asylum in Guatemala before the programme was suspended due to the pandemic.
With tighter border controls in place and measures limiting access to the territory in the north of the region expected to remain in place, the Guatemalan asylum system is likely to experience more pressure/strain as many will seek protection.
As a result of the socioeconomic downturn caused by the pandemic in Central America, additional support will be needed as part of a comprehensive regional response to monitor and respond to the needs of a growing number of people travelling through, or settling in Guatemala. The Office has identified an urgent need to upscale reception facilities and to ensure rapid humanitarian assistance to alleviate hardship experienced by those on the move amid pandemic. UNHCR will reinforce its presence and monitoring at borders in order to identify protection needs and to promote better reception conditions, information sharing and humanitarian assistance. UNHCR will also focus on cooperation with the Government to ensure access to the asylum system and continue to advocate longer-term solutions for refugees and returnees. Engagement with communities will also be key in identifying livelihoods and economic inclusion opportunities and to implement peaceful coexistence initiatives in receiving areas.
UNHCR’s response will continue to be framed by its support to the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS), in which the Central American countries (with the exception of Nicaragua), together with the Governments of Belize and Mexico, are planning their response to forced displacement through their national action plans, enhanced by regional cooperation. This framework will require continued technical and financial support in 2021.
Key prioritiesIn 2021, UNHCR in Guatemala will focus on:
- Strengthening cooperation with the Government to enhance the national asylum capacity.
- Strengthening access to legal and other specialized protection services such as child protection, response to gender-based violence, protection of LGBTIQ+ people of concern
- Improving access to safe spaces and reception centres with enhanced capacity to identify and refer individuals with international protection needs.
- Providing humanitarian and cash assistance to support reception, integration and boost the resilience of refugees and asylum-seekers.
- Fostering refugee integration through interventions with host communities.
- Facilitating comprehensive durable solutions for people of concern to UNHCR, including resettlement for those at heightened risk.
- Supporting the Government in the study and analysis of internal displacement due to violence in Guatemala.