IOM launches voluntary return programme for migrants stranded in Guatemala

Guatemala – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched a new programme of humanitarian assistance and Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) in Guatemala that will benefit migrants who voluntarily request to return to their country but do not have the means to do so. The initiative is part of IOM’s response to humanitarian needs of migrants in the region.

“We are opening this opportunity so that migrants can access a voluntary, safe and dignified return based on an informed decision,” said Jorge Peraza, IOM Chief of Mission for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. “The programme will also provide humanitarian assistance during their return to their countries of origin.”

“The initiative ensures the realization of the human right every person has the right to return to his/her country in dignity. The programme operates in strict accordance with the principle of voluntary consent, since the validity of the right to make a free and informed decision of each migrant person is essential for IOM,” Peraza added.

The AVR programme is based on international human rights standards and the fundamental principles of IOM which include: ensuring the migrant’s informed decision is voluntary; responses centred on migrants’ needs; maintaining confidentiality; promoting intergovernmental and intersectoral alliances and dialogue and the creation of evidence to strengthen decision making.

IOM will maintain close collaboration with the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR) and its implementing partners for the referral and counter-referral of cases of asylum seekers, as well as people who are presumed to have international protection needs. In addition, it will provide humanitarian assistance, including accommodation, food and medical care among others, to the beneficiaries of the AVR programme, with a focus on respect for fundamental rights.

IOM will also coordinate closely with governments and partners in the countries of origin to ensure a dignified and adequate reception, which includes post-arrival humanitarian assistance and referral to reintegration services. Likewise, it will periodically monitor the cases after return in order to be aware of any possible assistance needs that may arise.

The initiative will contribute to the wider response to the humanitarian needs of hundreds of migrants who have mobilized in the region in mixed flows since October 2018. It will be implemented in Guatemala and Belize until October 2020 and has a funding of USD 10.3 million, granted by the Government of the United States of America.

The AVR programme is part of the IOM's overall objective of upholding and maintaining the human right of every person to a humane, safe and dignified return to their country of origin. The programme also promotes orderly and regular migration, while also complementing the efforts of different sectors and governments in the areas of return, reintegration, prevention of irregular migration, combating trafficking in persons, illegal trafficking of migrants, and the prevention and elimination of discrimination and xenophobia.

For more information, please contact Melissa Vega, at IOM Guatemala, Email:, Tel: +502 2414 7410