Mexico has decided to not be excluded from the Latin American trend to offer to receive Syrian refugees, according to a statement Thursday by the Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu.
“We are paying attention to the crisis, and we are mulling the possibility of receiving at one point some refugees, but we maintain our conviction that dialogue, peace and protection of people's rights in situation of asylum must prevail,” she said. “We have insisted on this at various international events.”
The United Nations has estimated that between January and August of this year over 240,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Europe.
The international body also estimated that about 80,000 more were expected to arrive in September. And in total, the U.N. said it believed about 800,000 to 850,000 refugees will have arrived in Europe by the end of 2016.
Ruiz Massieu said that Mexico has sent resources to international organizations to aid the refugees at camps in Jordan and Lebanon. However, she did not provide details on the amounts or organizations.
Newspaper El Financiero reported that the NGO Project Habesha was bringing 30 Syrian students to Mexico where they would be financed by private universities and private donations.
But the foreign minister said the topic was still under debate, saying it “still isn't determined. We are exploring the possibilities, and I repeat, Mexico maintains its conviction to finding solutions to the crisis in Syria through bilateral engagement.”
The minister refused to say how much money Mexico had contributed to the refugee crisis, but she said, “Mexico has sent money via the U.N. refugee agency and the UNICEF and the International Red Cross to ensure that the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon have the proper conditions to house refugees.”
She also said that, “Mexico has a long tradition of opening its doors to refugees. We did it during the Franco era in Spain, during the dictatorships in South America, and we did it most recently in 2010 when we received Haitians displaced by the earthquake.”
Again, she failed to give precise details.
But while the Mexican government debates whether or not it will take in Syrian refugees, Project Habesha has announced that the first Syrian refugee in Mexico will arrive next week.
His name is Essa Hassan and is 26 years old. He is the first of about 30 the project has planned to mentor in Mexico. They would all be Syrians presently living at a refugee camp in Jordan.
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According to the Mexican government's website on refugees, Mexico received about 4,500 asylum requests in 2013 and 2014. Of those, only around 700 were approved.
Mexican news website Animal Politico said the few people that were accepted for refugee status in Mexico are left to fend off for themselves.
“Once they receive approval to remain in Mexico, they are handed a document that is useless when it comes to opening bank accounts and so on,” the website said. Basically, adding that refugees are often ignored and discriminated against.
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Venezuela has offered to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees. Chile has offered safe haven for 100 Syrian families. Uruguay has already taken in Syrian refugees and has announced it will accept more. The United States, one of the main countries responsible for the chaos, violence and refugees in Syria, has only accepted 1,500.