The United Nations has finished a new application, “Migrant App,” that will help provide migrants traveling from Central America and Mexico to the U.S. and Canada with information about food, shelter and legal rights.
The application, according to its producers, gives access to "clear and reliable information on their legal options" and helps them avoid riskier, irregular routes that exposes them to exploitation, fraud and extreme weather.
The Central, North America and the Caribbean branch of the U.N. International Organization for Migration, CNAC-IOM, designed the app and is making it available next week in a pilot program. CNAC-IOM Chief Roeland de Wilde said the Central America, Mexico-U.S. and Canada migration corridor "is the biggest migration corridor in the world."
He stressed the importance of providing migrants with dependable information during their journeys via their phones, as most rely on these devices when they migrate. He assured users that all information shared on the app is confidential.
For the moment, the MigrantApp is compatible on Android phones and will be released later for iPhones. It is available in Spanish, English and French, but will likely include other languages as the app moves past the pilot stage and becomes available in all parts of the world.
Specifically, the application provides information on health centers, food and homeless shelters, ways to find other migrants who are crossing in real time, specific help for women and children and help for human trafficking victims. It also provides information on employment and remittance services.
The app is being released as the U.S. government increases its crackdown on undocumented migrants, threatens to expand the border wall and ends programs that facilitated pathways to residency and citizenship.
In August, the IOM released a study reporting that 232 migrants from Mexico and Central America died along the U.S.-Mexico border attempting to cross it between January and July of 2017. That’s up by 17 percent over last year’s 204 deaths during that same time. Most are migrating to avoid violence and economic hardships in their home countries.
CNAC-IOM representative Alexandra Bonnie said MigrantApp is a “free, confidential and dependable” application that gives direction to migrants on safety, health and employment.