Mexico + 3 more

Protection and solutions in the pandemic: 2021 Highlights UNHCR Mexico



What a year it has been. In 2021, Mexico became the third top country worldwide in the number of new asylum applications. Nationals from various countries, mainly Haiti, North Central America, Venezuela, Cuba, among others, filed asylum claims throughout the year. The persistent effects of COVID-19 on health and movements, continued instability across several countries in the region, the rise of secondary and mixed movements arriving at Mexico’s southern border and the growing numbers of internally displaced people are only a few of the trends which have characterized this past year.

As the year ends, I am left with images of my numerous visits to UNHCR’s field locations, from Tapachula in the south and where Mexico begins, to the northernmost desert stretches near Tijuana, passing through the historical old towns of Mexico’s Bajío region, among others. In these images I see the expressions of people forced to flee – expressions of relief for finally having found safety and shelter, of relief for their families reunited, of hope for better days to come. I also met with many people who shared their sadness for having lost their homes, melancholy for loved ones left behinf, and concern for what their future holds. For thousands of asylum-seekers, refugees, and internally displaced persons in Mexico, the reality is that the next few weeks and months of their lives are full of a feeling of uncertainty, mixed with hope for a better future. Will I be able to stay in Mexico? Will my spouse be able to work? Will my children go back to school? – are just some of the questions they asked me. I saw women, men, children, and teenagers whose rights and dignity have been violated multiple times. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated their vulnerabilities. Yet in all my visits, heir resolve and resilience are clear: they are in search of a better, safer future. Here is where I am convinced that UNHCR can contribute- in providing the tools to rebuild lives.

Looking back also at the achievements of UNHCR’s teams across the country, I can say with confidence that we provided tens of thousands of people of concern with humanitarian support and legal assistance. For thousands, we found solutions to their plight, helping them to relocate and settle down with a new home and employment, becoming an active part of their new communities. Together with our many partners, we offered protection, counselling, assistance, material support, and at times, comfort. In a remarkably turbulent and challenging year, I am proud of the progress we have achieved, made possible only thanks to the sustained generous support of donors and through UNHCR’s close relationship and coordination with federal, state and municipal authorities, civil society organisations and the church, UN agencies and international organisations - and, critically - with refugees and internally displaced persons themselves.

As we prepare for another challenging year ahead, we thank you for your continued support to UNHCR and the people we strive to support and protect.

Giovanni Lepri

Representative, March 2022