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News note

UNICEF in Central America to promote of the rights of unaccompanied migrant children

MEXICO CITY, 12 February 2008- UNICEF representatives from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama will visit the border towns of Tijuana (Baja California) and Tapachula (Chiapas) from the 13 – 15 February, to address the repatriation of migrant children and adolescents traveling unaccompanied through Central America and Mexico.

More than 400,000 undocumented Mexicans and Central Americans immigrate to the United States every year. According to estimates, one third of them are children and adolescents.

In accordance with data from the National Migration Institute the number of unaccompanied, repatriated Mexican children and adolescents has increased a significant amount in recent years, from 7,100 in 2003 to 37,599 in 2006.

In 2007, at the southern border, more than 5,700 Central American children and adolescents were repatriated from Mexico to their native countries (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua).

The migration of unaccompanied minors is very complex. Many children migrate to try and reunite with their parents; often crossing borders in unsafe and dangerous conditions. Some of the hazards they are exposed to include: trafficking of undocumented people, commercial child sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, separation from their families.

UNICEF representative’s aims to analyze and discuss the need to promote policies that lead to greater protection of the rights of migrant children and adolescents along with establishing a common agenda for an interagency and inter-institutional network that works towards guaranteeing the protection of such rights.

During the visit, UNICEF representatives will be accompanied in both cities by authorities from the National Migration Institute and the System for Integral Development of Families.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Mónica Sayrols, UNICEF México, Tel +  52-84-95-56: www.unicef.org/mexico




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