Posted: Saturday, March 13, 2021. 1:20 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF), and International Organization for Migration (IOM) will be holding the last of three Mobile Centers for asylum seekers and migrant communities in southern and western Belize this weekend.
The event will take place in Benque Viejo on Saturday, March 13. Benque Viejo Beneficiaries will be able to access a comprehensive menu of critical health, legal and social services including consultations to facilitate onsite registration of births and other procedural queries. Families who require legal support will also be able to access free one-on-one legal advice and assistance on family law, inheritance, property matters, and immigration and asylum system procedures.
They will also be able to access sexual and reproductive health services, inclusive of cervical cancer screening, HIV testing, and manual breast exams. This initiative is part of a national joint strategy between the Government of Belize and the UN InterAgency Response team to improve migration management, mitigate challenges and preserve dignity and to guarantee the same value to all, as human rights are inalienable and universal. There will be strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols with an appointment system in place to manage flow and movement among persons.
The organizations issued a joint statement today, which explained that the outreach is a part of an inter-agency plan which seeks to coordinate the development and implementation of strategies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 to reduce inequalities within and among countries. SDG 10 requires countries to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of peoples.”
The organizations also noted Belize is currently home to an estimated 51,000 migrant persons and in 2010, 14.8% of the total population of Belize accounted for the foreign-born population. In addition, Belize hosts 2,394 registered and an estimated 3,400 more unregistered asylum seekers and refugees that have come to the country seeking safe haven and protection, mostly from nearby El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. The mobile clinics will allow for agencies to coordinate humanitarian assistance and support to respond to the emerging issues of migrants, refugees, and residents of their host communities.
“When the most vulnerable populations, including refugees, asylum seekers and their host communities, do not have access to basic services like health and protection, everyone suffers,” explained Yolanda Zapata, UNHCR’s Head of Office in Belize. “Facilitating access to legal services, birth registration, psychosocial services, and to information on the asylum procedures are key to developing comprehensive responses to address the needs of all populations living in the rural areas of Belize. This joint effort supports the fight against statelessness, the access to basic human rights and helps pave a more certain road towards greater inclusion.”
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