Mon, Oct 02, 2017 - Page 14 News List

UN agency releases app for migrants to the US

NAVIGATION UPGRADE:Central America and Mexico host the biggest migration corridor in the world, an official with the International Migration Organization said

AFP, SAN JOSE

A smartphone app designed to help migrants safely move through countries is being tested in Central America and Mexico from this week, ahead of a wider rollout elsewhere in the world, the UN Migration Agency said on Friday.

MigrantApp offers information in English, Spanish and French on safety, health, accommodation and organizations offering assistance. Its launch comes at a time when the US is making undocumented immigration far more difficult, while ending programs that had eased the entry and residence of certain migrants.

Much of the US attention is directed at Mexicans and Central Americans, who make up the largest number of undocumented migrants who have entered the US. Central America is also a major corridor for other migrants from Latin America — particularly Venezuelans in the past few months — and from countries on other continents seeking to get to the US.

The UN Migration Agency, also called the International Organization for Migration, stressed that its new app was not a tool to help migrants try to circumvent government controls on immigration.

Instead it provides “clear and reliable information on their legal options,” so that they are less likely to opt for riskier, irregular crossings that often expose them to exploitation and fraud, IOM Costa Rica country chief Roeland de Wilde said.

His office developed the app with funding from the US Department of State.

The path through Central America and Mexico “is the biggest migration corridor in the world,” he said, adding that it made sense to provide migrants with information on a mobile platform, given that most of them relied on phones throughout their journeys.

Data from migrants using the app will be kept confidential. Initially available only on Google Android phones, it is to be released for Apple Inc’s iOS devices later.

The pilot app is being released two weeks after IOM deputy director-general Laura Thompson told a conference in Costa Rica that migration flows in the Americas were overwhelmingly from south to north — with 94 percent of migrants aiming for the US and Canada.

This story has been viewed 1123 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top