Migrant hub inaugurated in southern Belize


So far, the Mobile Migrant Hub has made its way to the southernmost district of Toledo, in the village of San Antonio to be specific, where information and services to migrants for safe and orderly migration were offered. It is a part of the US government’s initiative through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Belize, to offer a single location where migrants, as well as other Belizean citizens, can receive information and services benefiting them. This includes the facilitation of obtaining foreign national documents for migrants who meet the requirements in Belize, as well as applications for work permits, birth certificates, and other documents. This is just one of the first and according to a press release, the main intention of these Migrant Hub activities is to care for migrants in Belize who would otherwise be hesitant to regularize their immigration status for fear of being prosecuted or deported. Keith Gilges, Chargé d’Affaires at United States Embassy in Belize, explained the complexity of migration. Still, he says, migrants should be able to feel that they are entitled to these services despite those complexities. The Migrant Hub helps to lessen the difficulties and to answer whatever questions migrants might otherwise be afraid to pose, making a world of a difference to them. He says that the message he intends for people to take away is that the Hubs represent a safe place; “If you have been irregular for a while, if you’re not sure what you qualify for, this is the place to come, to get the information you need to understand what the process is. And it can be complex, it can be difficult, but come here and ask those questions. This is a safe place to find out what you’re eligible for.”
Between February and March 2021, some 527 persons utilized the services of the Migrant Hub during its visits to the communities of Bella Vista, Valley of Peace, and Benque Viejo. These three initial Hubs came through the partnership of USAID, IOM, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Their success led to the expansion of these Migrant Hubs across Belize and between May and August, it will visit several more municipalities. A 2-day visit is planned for Placencia on May 15 and 16. It will then travel to Corozal on June 12 and to Orange Walk on June 13. On June 26, it will be in San Pedro and in Belize City on July 17. Finally, on August 14, the Hub will go to Dangriga.