Finding Missing Migrants in Central and North America: Five Good Practices from Civil Society Organizations – Mexico


INTRODUCTION

Each year, thousands of people leave their homes in search of a better future, which has become virtually inaccessible in their country of origin. Economic hardship, lack of access to education and employment, structural violence, natural disasters and political instability have pushed people all over the world, but mainly in Central America and Mexico, to seek new life in the United States of America.

Migrants passing through Central America and Mexico often experience marginalization and vulnerability and, in the most tragic cases, do not survive the migratory journey. Each year, hundreds of people perish on their journeys through deserts, rivers or remote areas on different migratory routes in Central and North America. No one knows exactly how many migrants have disappeared or died in these areas. However, records from the Missing Migrants Project of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) show that between 2014 and 2020, more than 3,400 women, men, boys, girls and adolescents lost their lives trying to cross the border. between Mexico and the United States, and nearly 850 people have died while migrating through Central America. However, given the considerable challenge of collecting this data, the figures are only a minimal estimate of the actual number of lives lost during migration.

The disappearance of a person in the course of migration has profound emotional, social, economic and legal impacts on the family. When a migrant stops communicating with his family, families embark on a long search to find out the whereabouts of their loved ones. During the search and identification processes, they frequently encounter various legal and bureaucratic obstacles, navigating a confusing and complex system that is generally inaccessible to most families of missing migrants. Since there are hardly any government services in place to guide and support the families of missing migrants, the families carry out the tracing process themselves and, in many cases, are supported by relief organizations. civil society who have filled the void left by states.


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