Belize City. May 17, 2018. The Government of Belize and the UN Migration Agency (IOM) jointly launched on May 16th the development of a National Migration and Development Policy for Belize.
The development of the national policy will be led by the Government of Belize through a Steering Committee chaired by the Department of Immigration and Nationality Services. In developing the policy, the Government of Belize requested technical assistance from the IOM in 2016, and a steering committee was formulated in 2017 to work alongside IOM in drafting the policy framework and to ensure that the policy is aligned with the Government’s development strategy and national vision.
The National Migration and Development Policy will guide Belize’s management of its multidimensional migration dynamics. The latest data indicates that emigrants as a percentage of the Belizean population stand at 15 percent, with the United States as the primary destination, while immigrants represent 15.3 percent of the total population in the country, mainly coming from Central America.
IOM will be responsible for the overall coordination and facilitation of the project implementation. In its first year, IOM will support the development of critical documents that will serve as a basis for the development of the Policy. The UN Migration Agency is building the capacity of key stakeholders, including members of the steering committee, to develop and enact policies and programs on migration and development. This last goal is achieved in partnership with Galen University utilizing both on-site and virtual courses.
Building and strengthening the capacity of key stakeholders will contribute to the long-term sustainability of a migration and development policy framework that manages migration-related challenges and harness the socioeconomic benefits and opportunities of migration.
Mr. Edmund Zuniga, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development & Immigration further explained “the migration policy is not a matter for only the Immigration Department. It is a matter for everyone, the State and society at large, and if you really think about it, migration touches the very lives of each and every one of us in some way or the other.”
At the launching event, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Immigration and Mr. Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America, and the Caribbean.
Marcelo Pisani noted that “this project is part of IOM’s larger objective of responding to the needs of governments regarding migration and development. We've had similar exercises in the region, such as in the Dominican Republic and Panama, where IOM supported both countries in 2017 with the process of developing their national policies on migration.”
This project is part of the IOM’s mission to promote safe, regular and orderly migration in the region.