Once more, walls and fences are dividing the world

Publié: 17 décembre 2015 16:31 CET

Carlos Frener, Vice President of the Mexican Red Cross.  Presentation on the needs of vulnerable migrants in the 32nd International Conference.

Once more, walls and fences are dividing the world; many countries are erecting them again, reversing the achievements made at the end of the twentieth century an era characterized by the opening of borders. Security concerns and migration control arguments are being used to justify these constructions. At the same time, we are witnessing daily numerous migrants getting injured, dying or disappearing and the intensification of their suffering and vulnerability.

For us, is easy to ignore the obstacles and risks faced by many migrants as we are able to cross borders without much hindrance. It does not cost much to cross a leg of sea between two countries in a ferry. It costs a fortune if you do it irregularly in an overcrowded inflatable dinghy with high probabilities of sinking or dying.

This is the new global picture of migration.

The migration that concerns the Mexican Red Cross, or rather, the migrant, who personifies this phenomenon, has been since 2003 the focus of our Institution’s humanitarian efforts, primarily because Mexico is a country of emigration but also of transit for the tens of thousands of brothers coming mainly from Central America and the Caribbean.

Insecurity and the difficult economic situation of this region, has pushed hundreds to leave their home countries causing the disintegration of their families. The first to leave are often the head of households, the adults, who take the route to the North looking for the realization of the American Dream in a trip that in many occasions turns into a nightmare. Then the children, mostly minors, follow their parents in this daunting, dangerous journey, hoping to be reunited with them. Many do not succeed. Often, families have to wait many years to be reunited while some never do.  In too many cases family ties are forever broken due to the death or disappearance of the migrant person on the migration route.

Against this background the Mexican Red Cross intervenes in order to support and assists vulnerable migrants. Through the establishment of help centers strategically located in the North, Center and South borders of the country, the Mexican Red Cross extends its humanitarian hand providing to all migrants in need first aid help, orientation, psychological support and reestablishment of family links services.

For more than three years now, we can count on the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (CICR). The ICRC in addition to its statutory mandate, intervenes proactively in favor of the vulnerable migrant population, contributing with its experience, protocols and funding, in support of our National Society and other National Societies of the region.

As a result of our combined actions, over the years, tens of thousands of migrants have benefited from the assistance provided by our institution.

This aid that we provide to migrants within the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence of our institution is, however, not enough. Firstly, there is need for a concerted action among National Societies in the region; second and more importantly, it is necessary that governments upgrade their public policies regarding migration. Through the establishment of adequate protection and assistance mechanisms, States should address effectively the terrible suffering migrants currently endure along the migration route,  amongst which violations of their basic rights, extortion, physical and psychological violence and lack of effective and affective response.