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?

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. 

4 Things to Know About Children in Crisis at the U.S Southern 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.

Seeking asylum is not a crime.

A young boy looks over his father's shoulder.

Every child has a right to safety, protection and a future, regardless of who they are or where they’re from. Children and families seeking asylum should not be treated like criminals.

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 SalvadorGuatemala and Honduras – and seek safety and protection in the United States. 

Family separation is a cruel and inhumane policy.

A father and son stand with their backs to the camera.

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.

In response to news reports of court-appointed lawyers being unable to find the parents of 545 children who were separated at the U.S. southern border under a 2017 pilot program, Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) have urged the administration, in the strongest terms possible, to fix this man-made crisis and stop putting children at risk.

Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 must not discriminate.

A mother watches her child sleep on a cot.

In a joint statement, the world's leading children's organizations made clear that when countries choose to implement border restrictions in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that such measures be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner, in line with international law, and prioritize the protection of the most vulnerable, especially children.

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.

Every child has a right to safety, protection and a future.

A young girl in a pink shirt looks at the camera.

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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