CoDev Exec Director Testifies to Citizenship and Immigration Committee

Last December, CoDev Executive Director Steve Stewart, in his capacity of Co-Chair of the Americas Policy Group (a national coalition of organizations working for human rights and development in the Americas) testified to  the Canadian Parliament’s immigration committee on the causes of forced migration from Central America. We recently discovered  an online transcript of his presentation and, since the conditions leading to forced migration from the region have only worsened since last December, we share it here:

Mr. Steve Stewart (Co-Chair, Americas Policy Group, Canadian Council for International Co-operation) at the Citizenship and Immigration Committee
December 4th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
Thank you.
I’ll first tell you very briefly about our organization. I’m here as the co-chair of the Americas policy group. It’s a national coalition of 32 Canadian organizations that work on human rights and development in the Americas.

While some of our member organizations, such as Amnesty International, work directly on migration, most of our work is done directly in the countries of Latin America. The majority of our members focus on three regions: Mexico, Central America and Colombia.
Given that we have a fairly limited time for the presentation, I’m only going to touch very briefly on Colombia and Mexico and focus primarily on the Central American countries, particularly Guatemala and Honduras, because I believe that’s the area where Canadian policy can play a role.

The focus in this presentation is primarily on the conditions that lead to migration. I think the speaker who preceded me did an excellent job of covering that, so I may jump over some of my points.

Colombia has the highest number of internally displaced people in the world after Syria, with 6.5 million people who are displaced. Despite the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia last year and an end to that part of the war, violence and displacement continue. In 2017, violence in the country generated another 139,000 displacements, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Although sometimes we have the impression that there is peace in Colombia, violence is still generating large numbers of internally displaced people.

There are a number of factors behind these displacements. They’re common through all of the countries I’m referring to here. They are the impacts of free trade, extractivism, the drug trade, corruption and organized crime. It’s exacerbated, as the previous speaker mentioned, by climate change.

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