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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will lead a ministerial meeting on migration on Wednesday during his first official visit to Colombia. He was welcomed by Foreign Minister and Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez.
The foreign ministers of 17 transit and receiving countries of migration in the region will meet virtually and in person in Bogota to jointly address the two most critical migratory flows in the continent: the Venezuelan and Haitian populations, most of whom left from Chile and Brazil, countries where they arrived as a result of the political crises and the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010.
Ramírez met Wednesday morning with officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Philip Goldberg, to "adopt comprehensive approaches to irregular migration, human trafficking and money laundering in the continent," the foreign minister said on Twitter.
The Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Ambassador Brian Nichols, told reporters on Monday that during the ministerial meeting the Secretary of State would discuss the "shared responsibility in managing human migration" when there is an "unprecedented" migration flow, as well as the long-term needs to "address the root causes that drive migration in the Americas," he added.
The risks posed by irregular migration were evident in a recent shipwreck in which three lifeless bodies were found and six people, including minors, were reported missing. The emergency occurred on October 11 in a boat carrying 30 people in the Colombian Caribbean Sea to the coast of Panama.
In the wake of the shipwreck, the UN agencies highlighted the need to "reinforce safe, regular and orderly migration channels to reduce the risk of loss of life" and urged governments to strengthen investigations against criminal networks involved in illicit activities such as human trafficking.
In a joint communiqué released on October 15, the agencies urged states to protect the rights of migrants, including the right to seek and receive asylum, and ensure adequate access to basic services.