Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2017, 12:39 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Guatemala

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Guatemala , 25 May 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/40b4593b10.html [accessed 27 May 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.

About 11,600 Guatemalans were seeking refuge abroad in 2003 with 10,200 in the United States, 900 in Mexico, 340 in Canada and 80 in Belize. The landmark ABC settlement and the 1997 Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) covered most of the long-pending Guatemalan asylum applicants in the United States and the approval rate of those applying for permanent residence under NACARA was 96 percent. Accordingly, the U.S. Committee for Refugees considers this population to have a durable solution.

Guatemala is a major transit point for a mixed migration flow heading to the United States and Mexico turned back approximately 140,000 undocumented migrants along its border with Guatemala in 2003.

Advocates for persons displaced from Guatemala's civil war, which officially ended with peace accords in 1996, still fought for government compliance with the resettlement and compensation sections of the peace accords and tens of thousands have not regained their lands and not successfully been reintegrated.

Guatemala hosted 705 refugees and asylum seekers, including 480 Nicaraguans and 175 Salvadorans at the end of 2003.

New Developments Presidential elections were held featuring the candidacy and campaign of General Ríos Montt, the head of state during a period in the 1980s when government forces committed some of the most brutal atrocities. Clandestine groups reputedly associated with conservative political factions attacked many opposition politicians, indigenous leaders, human rights defenders, and journalists, mostly with impunity, killing dozens during the year, especially frightening the indigenous population (about 60 percent of the total). In addition, land disputes and lack of land redistribution as agreed in the peace accords, contributed to indigenous poverty and social tension.

Ríos Montt was defeated in generally free and fair elections and new President Oscar Berger supported the creation of a special UN office to investigate the clandestine groups, including their links to government security forces.

Guatemala is party to the UN Refugee Convention and Protocol and has a new national process for determining refugee claims. The low number of newly recognized refugees in 2003, suggested authorities did not have an effective process. However, the country improved the process for transitioning to permanent residency.

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