Hundreds of children have been left without parental care in Honduras after security forces thwarted their attempts to join the ‘migrant caravan’ to the Mexico-US border. The children were seeking to escape poverty and gang violence, which are endemic in the county.
Of the 2,135 children who have returned to Honduras since mid-October 234 were separated from their families. SOS Children’s Villages is providing emergency care, protection and shelter for unaccompanied Honduran children in the busy border city of Santa Rosa de Copan and is working to reunite them with their families. Preparations are underway to open a second care centre in the southern city of Choluteca.
The unaccompanied children under the charity’s care range in age from just three years old to teenagers. Many became separated from their families during the difficult 1,440-mile journey and some made it as far as Guatemala before being forced to return. This is complicating attempts to reunite the children with their families, as in many cases the parents have left the country, or their locations are unknown.
Nicolas Alfaro, the National Director of SOS Children’s Villages in Honduras said: “These children are entitled to care and protection under international law until they can be safely reunited with their families and loved ones. They are in desperate need of food, a safe place to live and adult protection and support.
“Many of the children migrated by themselves. They left because of gang violence or because they hope to find opportunities in another country that are not available to them in Honduras. We are seeing cases of children who don’t know how to read and write and children who had to leave education to work in the fields for less than four dollars a day.
“If this situation does not change this will become a vicious cycle and these children will try again and again to leave. Most of the children arriving at Santa Rosa de Copan are defiant and say they will try crossing the border again and they are anxious to be reunited their families.”
Child migration from Honduras is being fuelled by poor living and economic conditions for young people. Schools are understaffed and lack basic resources and the recruitment of children into street gangs – often unwillingly – is widespread, as is child drug addiction and criminal violence against children.
SOS Children’s Villages has been caring for unsupported and at-risk children in Honduras for 50 years. Their village communities in Tela, La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, Santa Rosa de Copán, Valle de Ángeles, Choluteca and Tegucigalpa offer a family upbringing to hundreds of children who have lost parental support.
You can find out more about sponsoring a child in Honduras here.
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at Lucy.Prioli@sosuk.org or on 01223 222 974.