An overview of how the Global Compact on Refugees is being turned into action in Guatemala.
MIRPS - Regional response in Central America and Mexico


An overview of how the Global Compact on Refugees is being turned into action in Guatemala.
Four children play outside and smile for the camera.

1. Description of refugee situation

Where does the population of concern live?

Mostly in urban areas.

Popluation figures as of June 2020 

Refugees - 459

Asylum Seekers - 728

(Source: Data provided by Government and partners to UNHCR) 

For more information, visit the UNHCR Refugee Data Finder, information and fact sheets on the refugee situation in Guatemala on the Global Focus and the Operational Portal.

Map displaying location of Guatemala

2. Guatemala's  response to the refugee situation

An overview of how the Government has structured its ability to respond to the refugee situation, with the support of partners.

Guatemala has been participating in the Comprehensive Protection and Solutions Regional Framework (MIRPS in Spanish) since 2017. MIRPS is a pioneer initiative to promote regional cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination for a greater shared responsibility on the prevention, protection, and lasting solutions. It includes a “participatory approach” involving people with protection needs and populations affected by violence and insecurity. 

MIRPS National Action Plan in Guatemala

The purpose of the National Action Plan is to provide a comprehensive response to persons with protection needs, among the results obtained in its implementation, is the strengthening of the capacities of government institutions, as well as the improvement in the procedure of registration and resolution of asylum seekers and alliances between the public and private sectors about the importance of formal employment when it comes to equality of opportunities for vulnerable groups. Guatemala has prioritized working in the protection, jobs and livelihood sectors, the expected results for this year are the labour inclusion of asylum-seekers and refugees, improve the protection for children and adolescents especially in border areas and the creation of decent and specialized shelters for the care of persons in need of international protection. To achieve the expected results, it is necessary to expand resources to complement state efforts.

Plan Guatemala

Learn more about the MIRPS National Action Plan here.

MIRPS Quantification in Guatemala

Through the quantification process undertaken in 2020, each MIRPS State assessed the financial needs and activities required to implement their priority commitments, highlighting where they can meet their own needs, and where international cooperation is required.

Guatemala is expanding its operational capacity to respond to forced displacement in the region through the adoption and implementation of the commitments in their National Action Plan.
Guatemala prioritized three commitments which were also pledged during the Global Refugee Forum: i) Strengthen support for jobs and livelihoods through associations between the public and private sectors, and the National Employment Service; ii) institutional capacity assessment for open shelters for people in need of international protection; iii) protection mechanisms of children and adolescents in border areas.

Quant Guatemala

Learn more about the MIRPS Quantification in Guatemala here. Find the MIRPS Quantification here.


Which partnerships have been strengthened or have been made possible thanks to the implementation of the Global Compact of Refugees?

In 2018, Guatemala created the National Technical Team conformed by:

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Coordinator)
  • Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM)
  • Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MINTRAB)
  • Secretary of Social Welfare of the Presidency (SBS)

At the national level, the technical team is supported by UNHCR and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

In this sense, the national technical team is organized in three working groups and interinstitutional fora:

  1. National Refugee Commission (CONARE) led by the IGM
  2. The Commission for the Comprehensive attention to children and adolescents under the coordination of the SBS.
  3. Labour Mobility Roundtable led by the MINTRAB.

In 2016, the Congress of Guatemala approved the Migration Code (MC) which entered into force in May 2017, establishing a new legal framework for the asylum system and the complementary protection pathways.

With the MC, the National Migration Authority (AMN) was created with the responsibility for the formulation, creation and supervision of national policies on migration and for conducting refugee status determination. The MC has a human rights-based approach to migrants, refugees and other groups in vulnerable situations. It provides work permits for asylum-seekers, special protection measures for children and women who are victims of sexual violence, it created the Commission of Attention and Protection which is an inter-institutional entity with responsibilities to conduct prevention campaigns, alternatives for deportees and complaint routes related to violations of human rights of migrants. The MC also created the Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM), as a decentralized institution with subdirections for the attention, assistance and protection of asylum applicants, refugees and humanitarian protection.

In 2019, the AMN issued a Regulation on the Procedure for the Protection, Determination and Recognition of the Status of Refugees. The regulation created the National Commission for Refugees -CONARE- as an advisor entity of the AMN on the refugee status determination.

Guatemala is one of six countries participating in the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework (MIRPS) since the initiative was formally adopted in October 2017 as a regional application of the CRRF and a regional contribution to the GCR. 

Three working roundtables have been established – CONARE, Commission for the Comprehensive Attention to Migrant Children and Adolescents, and Labour Mobility – to comply with relevant MIRPS commitments.

3. Steps towards meeting the objectives of the Compact

Here’s a summary of how partnerships working in education, livelihoods, health and social inclusion have already transformed the lives of refugees and their hosts.


prot iconProtection 

Training sessions have been carried out with state officials involved in working on issues regarding refugee and/ or migrant boys, girls, adolescents, families and LGBTI people, on issues of asylum, international protection, protocols, implementation of guidelines on the determination of the best interest of the child, the immigration code, the comprehensive law on the protection of children and adolescents, the inter-institutional attention route and on Agreement 056-2018, among others. As a result, priority has been enhanced for protection processes targeting boys, girls and adolescents repatriated to the country.

Protection of unaccompanied children was also enhanced through improved infrastructure of reception centres and strengthened protection capacity of the General Attorney’s Office in three locations (urban and rural).

Different ministerial agreements since 2017 have strengthened the inclusion of children and adolescents into the national education system through the validation of their studies. The agreement 1753-2019 of the Ministry of Education, establishing the technical and administrative process of the Ministry to attend the request for inclusion in the national system, is mandatory for educational institutions throughout the country. It allows asylum-seekers and refugees who may not have full documentation of their studies abroad to be integrated into the education system. 


jobs iconJobs and livelihoods

A new modality of work permit for asylum-seekers was prepared following the entry into force of the Regulation for the Procedure for the Protection, Determination and Recognition of the Status of Refugees in the State of Guatemala (Agreement of the Migration Authority No. 2-2019). The work permit is granted for a period of six months and renewable upon completion of the minimum requirements, and the expedite process will allow refugees to obtain work permits quickly.

The General Directorate of Employment through the Labour Market Observatory (OML) in conjunction with the Department of Permits for Foreigners is developing statistical information on the profile of returnees and refugees in Guatemala, compiling and analyzing data from the first semester of 2019. This is part of broader efforts to foster access for returnees and refugees to formal jobs, including sensitization campaigns towards the business community and specific training on labor integration of migrants, returnees and refugees for the municipal employment centers (VUME from its Spanish acronym) and the provincial offices of the National Labor Service (SNE) within the Ministry of Labour.


health iconHealth

The Ministry of Health and other relevant stakeholders committed to working towards the renovation and extension of health posts along the migration routes (towards Bethel and El Naranjo). This will benefit approximately 15,000 refugees, people in transit and members of host communities.

Pledges and contributions made by Guatemala



Pledges and contributions dashboard (interactive by Area of Focus)

This dashboard includes all pledges and contributions made towards the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees in Guatemala, including national pledges made by the Government of Guatemala itself.