NEW YORK/MEXICO CITY, 26 October 2018 – An estimated 2,300 children traveling with the migrant caravan now in southern Mexico need protection and access to essential services like healthcare, clean water and adequate sanitation – UNICEF warned today. The long and arduous journey has left children exposed to inclement weather, including dangerously hot temperatures, with limited access to proper shelter. Some have already fallen ill or suffered from dehydration, according to UNICEF teams on the ground.
Many of the children and families in the caravan are fleeing gang and gender-based violence, extortion, poverty and limited access to quality education and social services in their home countries of northern Central America – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Sadly, these conditions are part of daily life for millions of children in the region. Each day, families facing these harsh conditions make the painful decision to leave their homes, communities and countries in search of safety and a more hopeful future.
While those traveling with the caravan hope for safety in numbers, the perils of using irregular migration routes remain significant, especially for children. The journey is long, uncertain and full of danger, including the risk of exploitation, violence and abuse.
In Mexico, UNICEF is working with the Government and other partners to ensure that uprooted children are provided with the support and services they need and that their rights are upheld. This includes providing technical assistance to authorities on nutrition and child protection, and expanding access to psychosocial support. UNICEF and its partners are also providing children and families in the caravan with more than 20,000 litres of safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation packs, oral rehydration salts, sunscreen and soap.
Throughout northern Central America and Mexico, UNICEF continues to provide psychosocial counselling for children and families who have endured violence, exploitation and abuse at different stages of the migration journey. UNICEF is also developing models for alternative care to detention, and strengthening consular protection for uprooted children.
UNICEF reiterates its call on all governments to prioritize the best interests of children in the application of immigration laws and procedures, to keep families together, and to find alternatives to immigration detention of children.
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