An estimated 2,300 children who arrived in Mexico between 19 and 22 October as part of the migrant caravan are still in need of humanitarian support – including protection, healthcare, nutrition, safe water and sanitation – to ensure their protection and wellbeing, UNICEF said today.
This group of children includes both those still traveling with the caravan as well as those now staying in communities and shelters after leaving the group. Additional groups of migrants from Central America, including many families with children, are travelling northwards in search of a better life and could also soon need assistance.
UNICEF, in coordination with civil society organizations and local authorities, has set up drinking-water facilities in areas where members of the caravan are spending the night and has distributed hygiene products. UNICEF is also working to install separate latrine and shower facilities for children and adults.
A child protection team from UNICEF Mexico, working with civil-society partners, will shortly put in place a series of psychosocial support measures aimed at decreasing stress levels among migrant children. The children’s agency is also working with the authorities in Mexico City, other public entities and NGOs to set up a ‘humanitarian-aid bridge’ that will meet the needs of the migrants once they reach the capital.
Many of the children and families who joined the caravan are fleeing gang and gender-based violence, extortion, poverty and limited access to quality education and social services in their countries of origin in 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.
Those travelling as part of the caravan face considerable danger when travelling through irregular migration routes, particularly the children. It is a long, uncertain journey, which places them at risk of exploitation, violence and abuse.
UNICEF in Mexico continues to advocate for the implementation of alternatives to the detention of migrant children, and works to strengthen consular-protection systems 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 which studies have shown can be highly traumatic experiences that can undermine a child’s long term development.