Since 2017, RET has directly supported around 30K direct beneficiaries in Mexico, 48% of them are vulnerable women, and indirectly benefitted more than 300K beneficiaries, throughout 9 projects focused on Protection (including Child Protection and Gender-based Violence Prevention & Assistance), Education, Economic Growth & Development (including Livelihoods programs), Youth Development, and Nutrition & Food Security.
Mexico is characterized as a country of origin, transit, destination and return. Migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and victims of human trafficking all transit through what has become one of the largest migration corridors in the world. RET’s interventions are a response to the problems brought forth by the unprecedented arrival of families to the southern border of Mexico, fleeing gang-based violence in their home countries of Guatemala, El Salvador Honduras and Nicaragua. A lack of basic necessities, access to schools, child labor, refugee application processes, and organized crime are all examples of what displaced populations face, while both internal and external displaced people have to contend with complex integration issues.RET’s projects support refugees with humanitarian aid assistance as well as providing them with the legal aid to obtain refugee status. RET also works to strengthen displaced families, and displaced youth and integrate them in the host communities. Since 2017, RET has been a strategic partner of UNHCR in Mexico, providing humanitarian assistance and strengthening vulnerable families in Tapachula and Palenque, state of Chiapas; Tenosique, state of Tabasco; Acayucan, Oluta, Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz City, Xalapa and Tierra Blanca, state of Veracruz. As of February 2019, RET also became a partner of UNICEF, implementing an emergency program to assist children on the south border of Mexico (Tapachula, Chiapas).
RET’s interventions responded to the problems brought forth by the unprecedented arrival of families to Mexico’s southern border, fleeing gang-based violence in their home countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. A lack of basic necessities, access to schools, child labor, refugee application processes, and organized crime are examples of what displaced populations face. In contrast, both internal and external displaced people have to contend with complex integration issues.
As part of its programs to strengthen the resilience of refugee families, RET provided holistic protection, case management, and multi-sectorial services that aim to improve their integration in the host community. The program targeted teachers to strengthen their knowledge and awareness of child protection and prevention and response to SGBV. This approach sought to transform schools into safe spaces for children and adolescents in need of international protection.
RET’s child protection experience consisted of providing psychosocial support to accompanied and unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents in “Friendly Spaces” in Mapastepec and Suchiate. RET provided psychosocial support in shelters for migrants and at the Migration Station in Tapachula, Chiapas state, and public schools. The methodology involved strengthening teachers’ and education personal’s knowledge and awareness of child protection and prevention and response to SGBV. In 2019 the process included developing and implementing recreational, artistic, and sports activities with a psychosocial focus.
Gender-based Violence Prevention & Mitigation
RET began implementing GBV in October 2018 in the cities where there is a gender alert due to the number of femicide crimes (State of Veracruz: Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Acayucan, and Oluta; State of Tabasco: Tenosique; State of Chiapas: Palenque). RET’s experience consisted of identifying and referring to specialized services for individuals, couples to support group psychological care, utilizing a diagnostic instrument on violent situations. RET has experience implementing violence prevention workshops, creating support groups for women to strengthen the internal emotional resources of survivors to reduce violence, and formulating Support Groups for men and training in “New Masculinities” to minimize cases of violence against women.
RET started our activities in Mexico in March 2017 with the Humanitarian Assistance Project in partnership with UNHCR. However, in May 2018, our donor decided to deliver in all states of the Southern Border. In October 2019, RET restarted the delivery of CBI in Tapachula, state of Chiapas.
RET in Mexico has experience in registration, interviewing for the detection of primary needs of the population of interest, the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and follow-up cases following UNHCR’s rules of operation.
A cooperation between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), UNHCR, and RET in Mexico consisted of protecting against abuse, exploitation, and violence of adolescents and young people (12-25 years old) seeking refugee status, and vulnerable Mexicans. RET used sport and other recreational activities to increase resilience and life skills, thus impacting participants’ well-being and protection. RET implemented youth development projects in 5 different cities: Tapachula, Palenque, Tenosique, Acayucan, and Oluta. The work was done through a survey on preferences, skills, and hobbies that made it possible to determine the sports activities to be implemented with young people. Moreover, RET raised awareness and provided orientation for parents and caregivers for the development of sports training. RET held life skills camp, sports tournaments and implemented socio-cultural initiatives; eventually, RET formed youth clubs to sustain the actions’ future sustainability. The work focused on improving the participants’ emotional state and was mainstreamed with the education and livelihood components.
Since July 2017, RET has been implementing an education component in 4 cities of the country (Tapachula, Palenque, Tenosique, and Acayucan). The work consisted of the orientation and support for access and permanence in the Mexican educational system for children, adolescents, young people, and adults interested in continuing their studies; educational activities also complemented the formal education component. In tandem with raising teachers’ awareness of rights issues.
RET’s approach consisted of: (a) guidance for parents and caregivers on the functioning of the Mexican education system and the right to education in Mexico; (b) financial support from the UNHCR for payment of registration fees, fees for validation of studies, and other complementary support; (c) implementation of various strategies for academic upgrading and strengthening for children and adolescents (homework club, reading, writing and mathematics workshops, art workshops to prevent children from falling behind and dropping out of school, reading club, etc.); and (d) implementation of socio-educational initiatives in coordination with schools, teachers, and parents/caregivers.
Since 2017, RET has been implementing a livelihood component in 4 cities (Tapachula, Palenque, Tenosique, and Acayucan). The work consisted of improving refugees’ employment profile, providing guidance/counseling and monitoring cases, and accessing employment opportunities in various locations.
RET’s approach for self-reliance consisted of a) Social training that focused on generating or developing personal and social skills, emphasizing aspects such as self-esteem, decision-making, empowerment, and emotion management. The final product of this training was the drafting of the Life Plan and was carried out in coordination with the psychosocial support component; b) Technical and/or vocational training aimed at strengthening employment profiles; c) Advice on employment opportunities and links with existing job centers; d) Training and awareness-raising for potential local employers on the inclusion of the population of interest in the labor market.
Improving the integration conditions for asylum seekers and refugees
The increase in violence in Central America has contributed to many applicants seeking refugee status and International Protection in Mexico. According to the Mexican Refugee Aid Commission, 70,302 applications for asylum have been submitted in 2019 alone.
The project proposed five components:
1) First comprehensive protection interview with activation of possible routes of referral and/or monitoring / humanitarian assistance through Multipurpose Cash Grants (MPG),
2) Education with access and permanence in the Mexican Education System,
3) Strengthening livelihoods,
4) Psychosocial intervention and
5) Youth protection through sport (PJD).
RET started with a comprehensive protection interview and identified possible routes of referral and / or monitoring and humanitarian assistance through Cash-Based Intervention (CBI). The first comprehensive protection interview’s objective was to ensure that the registration interview is approached from a protection perspective and focused on early identification of specific needs, which allowed for the appropriate response and attention. This first interview provided a safe, reliable, and confidential space for the population and is the beginning of individual case management. During the registration of persons of interest, the Humanitarian Assistance surveys were conducted utilizing the Kobo tool to evaluate vulnerability following UNHCR internal policies to deliver MPG through a debit card (from SiVale). This assessment allowed an understanding of vulnerability levels based on living conditions, socio-economic status, and protection needs. The RET team received training and workshops in different modalities, using a multifunctional approach to identification and registration management, International protection; interview techniques, identification of specific protection needs, communication, and outreach with communities, among other topics.
Through its holistic approach, the project assisted the displaced families arriving at Mexico’s southern border by strengthening their protection and integration mechanisms through individual and group psychosocial care, advisory services, and livelihoods training. The project also supported the youth within the families with educational training to facilitate their integration in the Mexican educational system.
To reduce youth’s vulnerability, protect, prevent violence, the project offered sports/art and culture as a tool for their protection and integration. The project also aimed to strengthen the internal mechanisms responding to gender-based violence (GBV) and assisted the survivors of GBV with psychological first aid, individual, and group psychosocial support. In tandem with creating support groups for both women and men. The inclusion of men in GBV training and awareness-raising sessions contributed to modifying behavioral patterns, and reducing violence against women.
This project implemented respectively, between January 2020 and December 2020, was funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and implemented by RET in Mexico.
Psychosocial support and protection for children and adolescents (accompanied and unaccompanied) in a situation of mobility in temporary and transit shelters for migrants and in public schools in Tapachula and Suchiate, Chiapas
Among the members of the caravans, children and adolescents are the most vulnerable group, since, given their young age, they are more likely to be emotionally affected by the difficult circumstances of migration, in addition to the already traumatic conditions that led to their departure from their places of origin. The program offers psychosocial care to children, as well as offers a series of recreational activities with a psychosocial focus in shelters and spaces where children are temporarily housed. As of May 2019, the program has included activities to raise awareness among Mexican children about inclusion, tolerance and respect for human rights, with the aim of promoting integration with the Central American population at an early age.
This project completed between November 2019 and February 2020 was implemented in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Mexico.