In comments January 15, Reverend Leonir Chiarello c.s., executive director of the Scalabrinian International Migration Network (SIMN), welcomed the announcement by the U.S. government to launch a new refugee processing program in Central America for families and unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
On January 13, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the initiative, which, according to reports, could offer resettlement to up to 9,000 persons a year to the United States and other countries in the region. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would collaborate with the United States and other governments in the region in implementing the program.
“This is a welcome development,” said Fr. Chiarello. “It not only offers these vulnerable populations an alternative to taking a dangerous journey to find safety, it shows that these women and children are indeed refugees and should be offered international protection.”
The Scalabrinian network, which operates 35 migrant shelters globally, has hosted nearly 600,000 migrants in their shelters in Central America and Mexico over the past three decades.
“From our experience in the region and from the stories we hear from those in our shelters, the primary force pushing them is the endemic violence in their home countries, “ Fr. Chiarello added.
Fr. Chiarello offered the assistance of the Scalabrinian shelters network in identifying at-risk children and families who would qualify for refugee status in the new program.
“We have eyes and ears on the ground and the refugees tell us their terrifying stories,” Fr. Chiarello stated. “It is our hope that we could collaborate with the governments and the United Nations in directing those in danger to this new and important program.”
For more information, please contact Kevin Appleby, International Policy Coordinator of SIMN – firstname.lastname@example.org
About SIMN: The Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) is an umbrella organization of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St. Charles, Scalabrini that includes more than 250 entities involved in providing different programs and services to migrants, refugees and seafarers and promoting policies and programs to protect their dignity and their rights. For more information, see: www.simn-global.org