Leaders of Haitian organizations participate in CWS Protection Training in Haiti. Photo: Aaron Tate/CWS

The refugee population in the Caribbean is highly dispersed throughout the region’s 27 states and territories. Historically, Cubans and Haitians have comprised the main migrant and asylum-seeking populations in the Caribbean, though the number of extra-continental asylum seekers has increased significantly since 2004. Refugees from more than 30 countries of origin are now spread across the entire Caribbean region. For small island states that do not consider themselves asylum destinations, these flows of asylum seekers have increased the need for assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees including support missions to determine refugee status and identify resettlement needs.

CWS has partnered with UNHCR since 2013 to deploy U.S.-based staff to the Caribbean region where they interview refugees and prepare their submissions for resettlement to the U.S. or other resettlement countries. The program’s overall goal is to increase UNHCR’s capacity to secure durable solutions for refugees in the region.

In addition to these short-term deployments, a multi-day, joint UNHCR-CWS training was carried out at CWS headquarters in New York City for six new deployees. Sessions covered refugee protection in the Caribbean context; refugee status determination procedures; resettlement processing; completing resettlement registration forms; interview techniques; security on missions; CWS deployment administration and logistics.