About 16.5 million children need humanitarian assistance in Latin America and the Caribbean next year
UNICEF seeks to raise US$723 million to provide lifesaving assistance to children and families across the region.
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PANAMA CITY, 5 December 2022 - Amidst growing migration flows, violence, and climate hazards, an estimated 16.5 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean will require humanitarian support in 2023, UNICEF alerted today at the launch of its Humanitarian Action for Children appeal.
Over recent years, the region has experienced one of the world’s largest migration crises outside conflict areas. Coupled with increased poverty exacerbated by the residual effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic decline, climate shocks and violence, the flow of children on the move from South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean across the whole continent is on the rise.
Between January and October this year, around 32,000 children - 211,000 migrants in total - have walked through the Darien Gap jungle between Colombia and Panama, surpassing the total figure recorded for 2021 by 10 per cent. Furthermore, the region is prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and droughts. About 1.5 million children were affected by these emergencies across Latin America and the Caribbean in 2022.
“With or without their parents, more and more children in Latin America and the Caribbean are embarking on a continent-wide journey in search of a better and safer life," said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF Regional Director a.i. for Latin America and the Caribbean. "Pushed up north by poverty, violence and climate change, migrant families leave their homes to cross several borders on foot, sometimes from Chile all the way towards the United States. Throughout the perilous journey, children are particularly at risk of suffering from malnutrition, infectious diseases, abuse, exploitation, and family separation.”
Children on the move face numerous challenges in transit and at destination, often because they have few – or no – options to move through safe and regular pathways, whether on their own or with their families. Their access to essential services is frequently limited or discontinued during the migration journey. Furthermore, most of them are exposed to discrimination and xenophobia in the community they arrive in.
Thanks to the contributions of donors this year, UNICEF and its partners on the ground reached about 5.2 million migrants and refugees, by providing access to primary healthcare, vaccines, nutrition services, water and sanitation facilities, education, as well as psychosocial support, alternative care, the reunification of unaccompanied children with their families, among other child protection services.
“We simply cannot ignore this worsening child rights humanitarian crisis that is now affecting every single country in Latin America and the Caribbean, either as a country of origin, transit or destination,” noted the Regional Director a.i. “Not delivering sufficient and urgent humanitarian assistance to migrant families and host communities is not just jeopardizing the safety and well-being of millions of children, it’s also threatening the stability and peace across the whole region.”
For next year, UNICEF appeals for US$723 million to support the overall emergency preparedness and response to emerging crises in Latin America and the Caribbean, including by consolidating local and national shock-responsive systems, as well as to provide children and their families with access to essential services throughout their migration journey. Additionally, those funds will contribute towards integrated interventions to facilitate children’s access to education, health, and protection services within host communities.
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