There are nearly 73.5 million migrants across the American continent - over a quarter of the migrants worldwide - and we continue to see unprecedented migration flows in the region. In 2020 alone, approximately 4.7 million people were displaced on the continent due to disasters - the highest level seen in 10 years. In Panama, just last year, some 134,000 people crossed through the perilous Darien Gap – over 22,000 of whom were children.
Within the framework of the High-level Meeting on Migration called by the Panamanian authorities on April 20, 2022, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, Martha Keays, said:
''States, humanitarian organizations, international agencies and civil society in the Americas face an enormous challenge: protect the dignity and address the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized migrants who continue to face trafficking, discrimination, violence, and limited access to essential services and protection mechanisms.
The IFRC and its membership, the Red Cross National Societies of the continent, as auxiliaries to the public authorities, call upon the governments of all countries across the Americas to facilitate the work of the Red Cross to address the needs of migrants and people on the move in the Americas, irrespective of status, in keeping with our mandate as the world’s largest humanitarian network.
Over the past few years, thousands of Red Cross volunteers have provided millions of migrants in 17 countries across the Americas with essential services, including emergency and maternal healthcare, psychosocial support, water, hygiene and sanitation, access to information, and COVID-19 prevention and treatment.
However, our experience and local reach tell us that the work is not over and there is still a titanic challenge ahead of us. Push factors such as the devastating socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, continuing political crises, and disasters such as the recent hurricanes Eta and Iota and the earthquake in Haiti, all have increased and will continue to increase population movements while exacerbating existing vulnerabilities.
''We urge governments to save lives, ensure access for migrants to essential services, scale up support to persons at risk of displacement related to disasters and the climate crisis, and include migrants and refugees in all aspects of society. It is a humanitarian imperative and a shared regional responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind.”