The tragic death of two-year-old Valeria Ramirez last weekend as her family attempted to cross the Rio Grande to build a new life in America has shone a light on the dangers faced by migrant families around the world – and the need to do more to protect children.
SOS Children’s Villages UK is working with other UK charities to campaign for safe resettlement routes for child refugees to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. We are also part of the Families Together coalition, championing the rights of unaccompanied children to be reunited with their loved ones.
SOS Children’s Villages US CEO Neil Ghosh shared with us his thoughts in the wake of the tragedy.
“By now most of America has seen the horrifying picture of the lifeless bodies of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria. They passed away last weekend as they attempted to cross the southern border into the United States – a journey that more than 2,000 people try to make each day. Of the nearly 600,000 arrests that have already been made so far in 2019 at the southwest border, almost 60,000 have been unaccompanied children.
How many more children must die, or fall victim to extreme violence, before something is done?
Children are the lifeblood of every society. They are our hope and future. Yet, they are also some of the most vulnerable. There is no greater spotlight on this fact than when crisis erupts, and families are forced to make the unimaginable decision to leave their homes and flee to a more safe and secure environment. Whether on the US border, in refugee and IDP camps around the world, or hidden in a forest line away from immediate danger somewhere, it is the global communities’ imperative to ensure that children are cared for and that they are kept with their families.
To understand why so many children are fleeing home unaccompanied, we must examine some of the root causes for the breakdown of the family unit in the countries with the highest number of migrants into the US. Of the children fleeing from Guatemala, 29% cited deprivation, 23% violence in the home, and 20% violence in society as the top reasons for leaving their countries. When it comes to violence in the home, 63% of people fleeing from El Salvador, 24% from Honduras, and 17% from Mexico attributed violence as the primary motivator for fleeing. A report from the UN-High Commissioner for Refugees states that “Salvadoran and Honduran children…come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the U.S. preferable to remaining at home.”
SOS Children’s Villages is dedicated to ensuring that every child grows up supported and cared for in a loving home. This includes offering family strengthening programmes to families at the greatest risk of breakdown. We are also committed to finding a solution to today’s mass displacement challenges that works for both governments concerned about secure borders, and families trying to make a better life for their children.
You can join our campaign today. Sign the petition to help reunite refugee children with their families. Find out more about our work defending the rights of refugee children worldwide.
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