Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 11:55 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Belize

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 20 June 2001
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2001 - Belize , 20 June 2001, available at: [accessed 14 December 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 approximately 1,700 refugees and asylum seekers in 2000. A large majority of the refugees, 1,086, were from El Salvador. All others were also from Central American countries.

During 2000, 20 individuals from African countries, primarily Nigeria, filed asylum claims in Belize. All of the cases were still pending at the end of the year.

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. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regional office in Mexico has covered Belize since UNHCR closed its office there in December 1998.

Belize's 1999 offer of permanent resident status to refugees and to undocumented immigrants meeting certain criteria stalled at the beginning of the year when responsibility for the program shifted to a different government agency. Despite the slow start, by the end of June, 1,702 families had been processed for permanent resident status. A total of 4,825 undocumented refugee families (nearly half of all applicants) applied for permanent residence under the program before the filing deadline in June 1999.

By the end of the year, 1,145 individuals who had been refugees became naturalized Belizean citizens. These refugees arrived during the conflicts in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua and were "of concern" to UNHCR. Almost all recognized refugees in Belize in 2000 achieved or were in the process of achieving durable solutions during the year.

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