COVID-19 poses an impossible dilemma for children and families taking shelter in overcrowded makeshift settlements along migration routes. Without access to health care, clean water and hygiene supplies, an already vulnerable population is even more at risk.
In Mexico, our teams are providing hygiene kits to families as well as essential information on how to stay healthy and protect themselves from coronavirus. As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, your urgent help is desperately needed.
Help Save Children in Crisis at the U.S. Southern Border
Children’s rights continue to be violated at the border. Vulnerable and terrified, young boys and girls are being held in custody longer than the legal limit, being separated from their families, and more. In the wake of COVID-19, children and families are being denied asylum and other protections due to coronavirus-related border restrictions and policies.
Regardless of border restrictions, asylum seekers have a right to seek international protection and must not be returned, either directly or indirectly, to a country where their lives or safety are at risk.
How is Save the Children Helping Children at the Border?
For more than 100 years, Save the Children has protected the world’s children from harm and ensured their rights are upheld.
Through donor support, we are the leading national response agency working in transit shelters focused on the unique needs of children at the U.S. southern border, from California through Texas. Our work features programs to protect children and address their immediate needs, resource support and advocacy.
Save the Children is one of the only international non-governmental organizations responding to this crisis on both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border, which is critical to addressing migration issues. Our presentence in shelters, from California to Reynosa, Mexico is critically important to the work we do to keep children safe, healthy and learning.
We are also continuing to address the root causes of migration through our work in Central America with longstanding programs primarily focused on children and adolescents in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. But we can’t do any of this important work without you.
4 Things You Need to Know About Children in Crisis at the Border
Save the Children is gravely concerned about the treatment and well-being of children who are in the custody of the United States government after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Children’s rights continue to be violated at the border – being held in custody longer than the legal limit, being separated from their families, and more. Here’s what you need to know about the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
1. Many of the families and unaccompanied children arriving at the border are fleeing from a complex mix of social and economic factors.
For years, a complex crisis of violence, brutal gangs and entrenched poverty has driven children and families to flee the Northern Triangle of Central America – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – and seek safety and protection in the United States. According to an April 2019 Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council report, family unit migration at the U.S.-Mexico Border has surged by 600% over the previous year.
2. Separating a child from his or her family unnecessarily is inhumane, traumatic and simply put, unacceptable.
The cruel act of separation can cause severe negative social and emotional consequences for the children and their families in the days, months and years ahead. Our global evidence shows that children living in institutions away from their families are highly vulnerable to emotional, physical and psychological abuse, which can lead to lasting developmental problems, injuries and trauma.
3. Any new border restrictions implemented in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 must do so in a non-discriminatory manner.
Along with current border closures in response to COVID-19, children are being summarily turned away or deported from the southern U.S. border without opportunities to make asylum claims with due process. Those who are provided with the opportunity are placed in harmful detention facilities.
Additionally, children arriving at the border are not tested for COVID-19 and their returns pose grave public health and child protection risks for a region already severely limited in sanitation, shelter capacity, health services, and child protection systems.
These practices leave children in hazardous conditions and they violate international law – including the international principle of non-refoulement, which forbids governments from forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are subjected to persecution.
4. Every child has a right to safety, protection and a future.
Children should not have to experience the trauma that comes from daily threats, a terrifying journey, forcefully being removed from their parents, facing danger at the border or being held indefinitely by the U.S. government.
“Children arriving at the U.S. southern border are escaping extreme violence, poverty and unrest, and our government has a responsibility to treat them humanely and with dignity,” said Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs & Advocacy. “We are working to make sure children’s rights are realized, protected and upheld, and they are healthy and safe.”
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