Mexico’s government has pledged to focus renewed efforts on supporting the estimated 230,000 victims displaced by the country’s violence last year, as international aid agencies await for the green light to begin assisting those “internal refugees” in need.
A spokesperson for the Secretariat of the Interior told newspaper Cronica the federal government planned to create a registry that would better characterize the numbers of internally displaced people by organized criminal groups. The government agency offered few other details about what the registry would look like, but it said the project would require the support of the president’s office, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
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The announcement by the Secretariat of the Interior accompanies an ongoing effort in Mexico’s Congress to pass a law that would put greater pressure on the government to recognize and protect the displaced population. The recognition is a first step to secure more international aid as many relief services wait for the government to formally designate populations as “internal refugees” before providing support.
[Read InSight Crime’s collaborative special about displacement in Latin America, including a look at Mexico]
Such initiatives signal that Mexican authorities are becoming more aware of the extent of the problem. Populations in rural areas remain particularly vulnerable to armed criminal groups who have driven thousands from their homes, and have at times destroyed entire communities.
But there are problems, beginning with statistics. There are no official government numbers for how many people were displaced in Mexico last year. Recently, a member of Congress put the figure at 230,000. This included a reported 24,500 people displaced from Ciudad Juarez alone, once Mexico’s most violent city.
In its most recent report, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre stated that the total number of displaced in Mexico is 160,000, noting that this estimate is not based on recent figures.
The UNHCR says the states with the highest number of displaced people are those most affected by Mexico’s organized crime war — Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, Sinaloa, Michoacan, and Guerrero.
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