Crime & Justice

ICRC: Violence-driven humanitarian crisis continues to plague CentAm, Mexico

By Ines Amarelo

Mexico City, Mar 24 (EFE).- Armed violence and its societal consequences – particularly the less visible, long-term impacts – remain persistent in Mexico and Central America, the outgoing head of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s delegation for that region, Jordi Raich, told Efe.

In its 2021-2022 report on the humanitarian actions and challenges for that region, that ICRC delegation said that over the past year internal displacements, forced migrations and violence severely affected citizens’ access to health care and education.

Those impacts, which are less quantifiable and visible than the sheer numbers of homicides or massacres, endure over time despite being difficult to measure, Raich said.

“Violence is not only what’s immediately apparent, but rather there’s an entire series of longer-term consequences that really affect the lives of those people forever,” he added.

Those hidden realities also make it more difficult for the ICRC to assess the true state of the region relative to previous years, he said, noting that data reliability is an ongoing problem.

The ICRC delegation said in the report that one of the most pressing matters for Mexico and Central America in 2021 – and one that the organization will continue to closely track in the coming years – was an increase in migration.

Official figures cited in the report showed the extent of the problem, with the number of United States-bound, mostly Central American migrants detained in Mexico rising by 41 percent last year, Raich said.

Efforts are also ongoing to reduce the vulnerability of communities triply affected by violence, natural disasters and the pandemic and to locate large numbers of people reported as missing in government registries.

In Mexico alone, nearly 100,000 people are officially reported as disappeared, largely in connection with that nation’s drug war and turf battles among rival cartels.

Raich also stressed the importance of ensuring the continuity of the ICRC’s work.

“Being on the ground with people who are suffering that violence or together with the families of disappeared people, for example,” the expert said.

Referring to outbound migration, he insisted that there are multiple root causes.

“Violence is just one of them. It’s not just poverty. It’s not just inequality. It tends to be a cocktail of causes that forces someone to abandon their home or their country, for example. And violence is an important part of that cocktail,” Raich said.

The ICRC also sees cooperation among government authorities, non-governmental organizations and civil society as essential.

The expert said most of the region’s governments have enormous needs to address and that coordinated action is needed to cover more of those needs and ensure that resources are not wasted.

“There are many success stories, but it’s always possible to do better, especially in terms of avoiding project duplication and the squandering of energy and resources,” Raich said, adding that his organization has good relations with all of the region’s governments. EFE


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