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Mexico asks UN for more suppoprt to tackle Central American migrants

A group of Central American migrants -mostly from Honduras- get over a fence as they try to reach the US-Mexico border near the El Chaparral border crossing in Tijuana. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP United Nations Jun 19, 2019, 11.20 PM (IST)

Mexico on Wednesday called on the United Nations for more support for its plan to stem the stream of undocumented migrants who are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.

In a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard asked for a special envoy to be appointed to coordinate the work that 14 UN agencies are carrying out on the ground in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Extra UN participation was needed because the work "involves not only several agencies in Mexico but also all other agencies in the three other countries and Mexico," said Mexico's ambassador to the United Nations, Juan Ramon de la Fuente, who was also present at the meeting.

The minister himself said the meeting with Guterres had been "very successful ... We asked for a UN presence on the border." 

A spokesman for Guterres said the "UN system has been very involved in supporting Mexico, as a large number of refugees and migrants cross its territory" and said a full statement on the meeting was likely to be released Thursday.

Thousands of Central American migrants have fled poverty and violence, heading across Mexico and bound for the United States, many of them organized into massive "caravans." 

US President Donald Trump has threatened to close the border and slap tariffs on Mexican imports if Mexico does not stem the flow of migrants from the south.

In tense negotiations, Mexico won a delay of 45 days on punitive actions in return for a pledge to deploy 6,000 members of the National Guard along its own southern border to start cracking down on the migrant flow.

"Migration is not prohibited," said Ebrard. "But we are not going to allow the trafficking of minors as they are doing, the trafficking of people."

Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obredor and his El Salvador counterpart Nayib Bukele are due on Thursday to launch one of the development plans aimed at stemming the flow of migrants.

The plan will include 30 public policy recommendations to bolster growth and employment in the region, thereby easing pressure on people to leave their homelands.  

Mexico will contribute "several million dollars" to the plan, said Ebrard. 

Story highlights

Extra UN participation was needed because the work 'involves not only several agencies in Mexico but also all other agencies in the three other countries and Mexico,' said Mexico's ambassador to the United Nations, Juan Ramon de la Fuente