Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2017, 13:52 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Belize

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2000
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Belize , 1 June 2000, available at: [accessed 21 September 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Belize hosted some 2,891 refugees in 1999. A large majority, 1,891, were from El Salvador. Most others, 724, were Guatemalans. The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) previously considered 10,000 to 20,000 other Central Americans living in Belize without documentation to be in refugee-like circumstances. With the end of conflicts in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, USCR no longer regards this population as refugee-like.

In 1999, Belize offered permanent resident status to undocumented immigrants meeting certain criteria. Approximately 5,000 migrants who applied for permanent residence under the program arrived during the conflicts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua and were "of concern" to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The six-week registration period ended in June.

Belize has ratified the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol and has had a refugee determination process in its national laws since 1991. However, since responsibility for refugee determinations shifted from the Refugee Department to the Immigration and Nationality Department in 1998, there has been no decision-making body in place.

Belize has not recognized any persons as refugees since 1995. In 1999, two Sudanese asylum seekers were denied refugee status by the Belizean government's "Eligibility Committee." The UNHCR Regional Office in Mexico, which has covered Belize since UNHCR closed its office there in December 1998, recognized the two as refugees. UNHCR submitted the cases for resettlement, as the government would not allow the refugees to remain in Belize.

In 1999, Belize reduced the amount of time recognized refugees must wait to apply for Belizean citizenship from ten to five years after they receive their refugee status. Therefore, almost all recognized refugees presently in Belize were likely to achieve durable solutions in the near future.

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