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Canada launches new initiative to protect vulnerable women and girls in Central America

·4 min read

OTTAWA, ON, Dec. 7, 2021 /CNW/ - As a friend, ally and regional partner, Canada is committed to helping countries in the northern part of Central America address high levels of violence and growing social and economic instability. These difficult conditions have forcibly displaced thousands—including many women and girls—and contributed to a significant increase in irregular migration, which puts already vulnerable people at greater risk.

That is why the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced, on behalf of the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development, a new initiative to empower and protect women and girls in the region. With a commitment of $10 million over the next 4 years, Canada will work with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to assist women and girls affected by irregular migration and forced displacement in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The project will provide support to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, countries from which many migrants originate. It will focus on the most urgent and high-impact requirements identified in the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (known as MIRPS) national priorities to reduce the drivers of high-risk migration and forced displacement and facilitate return or international protection for women and girls. The activities included in the project address the situation of persons in need of international protection, internally displaced persons, women and girls at risk of displacement, refugees and asylum seekers. It is expected to help improve living conditions and protection mechanisms for some 5,000 women and girls.

Minister Fraser, in his capacity as the Chair of the Central America and Mexico Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework Support Platform, made the announcement today at the inaugural high-level event entitled "Protection and empowerment of displaced women and girls in Central America and Mexico." This announcement comes on the heels of Minister Fraser's recent trip to Guatemala, where he witnessed first-hand some of the challenges that displaced populations face.


"As Chair of the MIRPS Support Platform, Canada is championing the rights of women and girls in Central America and Mexico. The situation in the region is increasingly dire, and we're taking action. This new initiative reflects our strong commitment to addressing gender-based violence and better protecting and supporting women and girls in Central America."
- The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

"Working together is the only way we can end the forced displacement of people from Central America and Mexico. It is a major humanitarian and refugee crisis that disproportionally affects women and girls. By working with partners like the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Refugee Agency, we will support initiatives that will reinforce the safety and well-being of women and girls by improving living conditions and protection mechanisms."
- The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

"At IOM, we are committed to supporting women and girls through situations of vulnerability, such as irregular migration or forced displacement in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and consider it an essential aspect of our work. This project has a comprehensive approach to produce a true transformation in Central American societies, where gender inequality can no longer reign and where women should finally have the opportunity to be the protagonists of their own lives."
- Jorge Peraza, Chief of Mission for Guatemala and Honduras, International Organization for Migration

"UNHCR looks forward to continuing to work with IOM and Canada in helping to protect and empower women and girls forced to flee their homes in Central America. This new initiative will make a tangible impact in the lives of thousands of women and girls and their communities, and is a concrete example of the value of joint regional approaches such as MIRPS in finding solutions to forced displacement."
- Isabel Marquez, Deputy Director for the Americas, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Quick facts

  • Launched by High Commissioner Filippo Grandi in 2019 during the first Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, the MIRPS Support Platform is a mechanism to support responsibility sharing on forced displacement in Central America and Mexico. It was set up to support the efforts of the 7 MIRPS countries to offer protection, seek solutions and mobilize support for these efforts.

  • The 7 countries are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Mexico.

  • The MIRPS Support Platform members are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the European Union, France, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay, the United States, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The Platform is supported by the UNHCR, as the MIRPS technical secretariat.

  • The MIRPS Support Platform channels the support required by MIRPS countries to respond to the needs of nearly 900,000 people forced to flee from northern Central America and Nicaragua.

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