From America, Ukraine, to Latin Americas. Immigration and refugees are the issue of the century. Simply fewer places in the world offer a better life as countries and economies struggle.
Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing one of the “biggest and most complex crises” of child migration on the planet, with record numbers of children crossing through its main transit points, Unicef warned Thursday.
25% of migrants in the region are minors, compared to 15% worldwide, according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, which points to poverty, violence and environmental degradation as Causes of the mass exodus.
Children under 11 years of age make up 91% of the children and adolescents, often unaccompanied, who cross the three hotspots of migratory transit: the dangerous and inhospitable jungle of the Darién between Colombia and Panama, northern Central America, and Mexico, according to the report The changing face of migrant children in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Although most of them migrate with their families, “we are also seeing an increase in children and adolescents traveling alone at some transit points in the region,” explains Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF’s regional head of communication for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“They are crossing two, three or more countries in search of better life opportunities, protection, or reuniting with their families,” he told AFP by email.
It is, he explains, a “combination of factors” that leads these minors to leave their homes and undertake the migratory journey, such as “poverty or the socioeconomic consequences of the covid-19 pandemic, threats of violence from gangs , the ravages of natural disasters, exacerbated by climate change, even reuniting with their families”, he explains.
Unaccompanied minors are more at risk of falling prey to traffickers, criminals, organized gangs and others who wish to exploit or injure them if they move alone or in small groups, according to the report.
In the first six months of 2023, more than 40,000 minors and adolescents crossed the Darién jungle. For its part, the United States Customs and Border Protection Service registered 83,000 in the first half of this year, compared to 149,000 minors in 2021, 155,000 the following year.