UNITED NATIONS – A news blackout appears to have descended over a two-day meeting on Central Americans crossing the United States border with Mexico that was attended by representatives of the U.S., Mexico and eight other unidentified countries.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, appears to have no real explanation for why a press release not been issued on a meeting that, according to Spanish-language press, considered classifying the Central Americans crossing the U.S. border with Mexico as “refugees.”
The application of international law would press the United States to grant asylum.
On Monday, Francesca Fontanini, a UNHCR representative in Colombia, explained to WND via email that the issuance of a press release was being delayed until Tuesday afternoon because of “normal internal procedures” in the Nicaraguan government.
When no press release was issued Tuesday, Fontanini recommended WND contact Fernando Protti, a UNHCR representative in Panama.
On July 8, CBS News published an Associated Press story reporting that Protti was among the UNHCR officials hoping the 10-nation meeting last Thursday and Friday in Nicaragua would see a movement toward a regional agreement on treating the Central Americans entering the United States illegally as refugees seeking asylum, “a designation meant to increase pressure on the United States and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum.”
“They are leaving for some reason. Let’s not send them back in a mechanical way, but rather evaluate the reasons they left their country,” Protti told the Associated Press.
WND received from Protti an automatic email response suggesting WND contact another UNHCR representative, José Samaniego, because Protti would not be returning to his office until July 21.
WND received no response from an email to Samaniego or from various phone calls and emails placed to UNHCR representatives in Geneva, New York City or Washington, D.C., regarding whether or not a press release was to be issued on the Nicaragua meeting.
On Monday, the U.N. confirmed to WND that representatives of UNHCR were “intensely discussing in meetings” the possibility of extending U.N. international protection to the Central Americans as “refugees” seeking asylum from political and domestic violence in their home nations.
Officials privy to the U.N. discussions have explained to WND it’s “a tricky situation,” because the Central American immigrants are not part of any group the U.N. has designated as victims of political or religious persecution.
A UNHCR official confirmed to WND Monday via email that unnamed representatives of the governments of the U.S. and Mexico, as well as eight other unnamed Central American countries, attended the Nicaragua meeting.
According to reports published in Spanish-language newspapers in Mexico and Central America before the meeting, it was expected to conclude with a declaration that the Central Americans are refugees, citing the United Nation’s 30-year-old declaration on the rights of refugees.
Attending the meeting were UNHRC representatives, as well as representatives of SICA, the El Salvador-headquartered non-government organization known in English as Central American Integration System. The group was endorsed by the U.N. General Assembly in a resolution Dec. 10, 1993, to create regional bodies and institutions authorized to interact with the U.N. officially in an effort to unify Central American states politically and economically.
In 1991, SICA was created by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, with Belize becoming a full member in 2013. SICA includes the U.S., Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay and Colombia as regional observers.
SICA also did not respond to WND requests for comment.
Will protests of illegals by U.S. cities make a difference? Sound off in the WND Poll.
Delia M. Arias De Léon, a Wellesley College political science student currently serving as a WND intern at the U.N. in New York City, contributed to this article.