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U.S. returns migrant children despite risks worsened by coronavirus: UNICEF

REUTERS/Veronica G. Cardenas/File Photo

The United States has returned at least 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras since early March despite risks of violence and discrimination that have worsened because of the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on Thursday.

Mexico has also returned at least 447 migrant children to Guatemala and Honduras over the same period, UNICEF said. It warned that children returned by the United States and Mexico faced added protection risks because of the perception they are infected with the coronavirus.

“COVID-19 is making a bad situation even worse. Discrimination and attacks are now added to existing threats like gang violence that drove these children to leave in the first place,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.

“This means many returned children are now doubly at risk and in even greater peril than when they left their communities,” her statement said.

U.S. immigration authorities dealing with border security and enforcement and Mexico’s National Institute of Migration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

UNICEF said it was making efforts regionwide to shore up overstretched national protection systems for children.

21 May 2020

News Source Reuters

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