MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Officials from the U.S., Mexico and Central American nations began a two-day meeting in Nicaragua on Thursday at which they are expected to discuss the possibility of treating Central American migrants fleeing violence in their homelands as refugees.
Migration and interior department representatives who met at a hotel in Managua declined to discuss the meeting's first day.
The agenda focuses on updating a 30-year-old declaration regarding the obligations that nations have to aid refugees.
Officials with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees have said they hope a regional agreement on designating Central Americans migrants as refugees begins to be discussed at the meeting. Such a resolution would lack legal weight, but the agency says it believes "the U.S. and Mexico should recognize that this is a refugee situation."
Central America's northern triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras has become one of the most violent regions on Earth in recent years, with swaths of all three countries under the control of drug traffickers and street gangs who rob, rape and extort ordinary citizens with impunity.
Even though any agreement would not be legally binding on the countries that signed it, advocates say it would help create international consensus to help the migrants. Those actions could include emergency aid and social services for internally displaced people inside Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.