The 4th Annual UNICEF Next Generation Art Party is in support of UNICEF's child protection work in Mexico
More children are on the move than ever before. Migration exposes children to a host of dangers and vulnerabilities including dangerous terrain, organized crime, corrupt or oppressive officials, and absence of shelter, basic needs, or legal representation. However, for many, staying in their host country poses a greater threat to their survival and/or well-being.
UNICEF’s approach to child protection in Mexico seeks to address the full spectrum of risk factors in the lives of all children and their families. Along with partners, including governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society actors and the private sector, UNICEF promotes the strengthening of all components of child protection systems - human resources, finances, laws, standards, governance, monitoring and services.
The journey for child migrants begins in Mexico's triangle countries – El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico – where push factors lead children to migrate to the U.S. These children go by themselves or are accompanied by parents, other family, or friends.
Smugglers may help them with the journey or they may take it alone, depending on income, cohort, ethnicity, and location. Routes vary seasonally and are in response to changing migration patterns. During transit, children are exposed to multiple dangers and vulnerabilities including dangerous terrain, organized crime, corrupt or oppressive officials, and absence of shelter, basic needs, or legal representation.
Arriving at their destination may provide some temporary relief but vulnerabilities persist. The risk of deportation and return may occur at any point in the journey. Deportation processes are frequently traumatic, often involving the detention of children and usually not coordinated with the country of origin, leaving children lost in the system or unprepared for their return.
Furthermore, children may face discrimination and stigma upon their return. Dangers related to reintegrating with their community may require support for relocation and alternative care, which is where UNICEF and the work of local NGO’s becomes critical.
Building on work UNICEF has done with migration authorities and consulates, the Mexico Country Office (MCO) is starting the implementation of the sub-regional Initiative “Children on the Move”, which includes regional activities as well as efforts in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
This initiative addresses the root causes of migration in countries of origin through provision of educational, vocational and recreational alternatives for out of school children and other children at risk of school desertion and gang violence. Furthermore, it promotes access to quality services in transit and upon destination; and supports integration and prevention of discrimination at destination countries.