IN AID OF RETURNING MIGRANTS IN GUATEMALA
Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Good day to you fellow global citizens!
In case you may have forgotten of the main conflict in Guatemala, let me share a bit of refresher. Guatemala underwent a civil war that was dirty and cruel, one that saw civil rights groups condemning the human rights violations committed by state troops and cops.
As a result, Guatemalans departed en masse, with so many thousands moving off the borders to Mexico while others moved to the USA and other countries. As a brief resident of California (1 year) a decade ago, I encountered migrant Guatemalans there (also from Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador), with some being active in the church parish that I attended (St George Parish, Ontario City).
That was how grave the situation was for the embattled nation, ditto for other nations similarly situated such as my own (PH). It surely is gladdening to note that thousands of migrants are returning, such as Guatemalans who were aided in the process by the International Organization for Migration or IOM.
The capsule report on the Guatemalan showcase is show below.
[Philippines, 08 October 2011]
IOM Provides Reception and Reintegration Assistance to 10,000 Guatemalan Migrants Returned from the United States and Mexico
Posted on Friday, 16-09-2011
Guatemala - As part of a two-year programme that is providing urgently needed reception and reintegration support to Guatemalan migrants returned by air from the United States and by land from Mexico, IOM has assisted 10,000 migrants.
With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), IOM launched the Guatemalan Repatriates Project (GRP) in early June, which expanded the basic services and support provided to returned migrants to include: reception at the airport and the land border, telephone calls to family members in Guatemala and the United States, personal hygiene kits, psychosocial support, transportation to communities of origin, legal advice, and support with social and economic reintegration through vocational training and job placement by the GRP Referral and Opportunities Centres.
Working with private sector enterprises that are willing to employ returnees, who are returning home with new skills, IOM has assisted some 300 returned migrants at the centres in the capital and various communities of origin. The participating returnees received vocational training or job placement, as well as legal advice and psychosocial counseling.
Since 2004, Guatemala has seen a yearly increase of returnees. In 2010, Guatemala's General Directorate of Migration recorded a total of 29,095 returns by air from the United States, and 28,090 by land from Mexico.
Gonzalo returned from the United States in June and was assisted by the IOM programme. Now he is employed by IOM, providing assistance to other migrants returning home and in need of advice and support.
"I am grateful to IOM Guatemala for all their support. They gave me the opportunity to stay in my country; now I have a job and I am helping others in need," says Gonzalo.
Guatemalan returnees face significant obstacles to reintegration, including human rights infringements, limited economic opportunities, difficulty accessing formal education programmes, in some cases limited knowledge of Spanish, discrimination in home communities, restricted access to social services and credit, psychosocial problems associated with forced return, and lack of information about their legal rights.
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