NEW YORK (September 23, 2021) – UNICEF is concerned about the situation of Haitian families being expelled from the United States border to Haiti.
According to UNICEF initial estimates, over 2 in 3 Haitian migrants who have been returned to Port-au-Prince are women and children. Some of them are newborn babies, with specific and immediate needs.
“Haiti is reeling from the triple tragedy of natural disasters, gang violence and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “When children and families are sent back without adequate protection, they find themselves even more vulnerable to violence, poverty and displacement – factors that drove them to migrate in the first place.”
Initial assessments in Mexico and Haiti suggest that many of the children under 10 years of age were born outside Haiti or lived most of their lives in another country.
UNICEF is also concerned about the situation of Haitian families in Del Rio, Texas, where about 40 percent of Haitian migrants are children, according to UNICEF preliminary estimates. They live in overcrowded and inadequate conditions and need basic humanitarian support.
UNICEF is working to provide children and families with basic assistance. In Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, UNICEF will facilitate access to child protection services and will deliver drinking water, hygiene kits, mobile toilets and handwashing stations.
In Haiti, UNICEF will provide returning children with psychosocial support, protection services and education supplies, in coordination with national authorities and the International Organization for Migration.
But more support is needed to provide these families with the life-saving assistance they need.
UNICEF urges all actors to refrain from any use of force at borders, to keep families together, and to properly assess migrants’ protection needs before any decision on return is made. Children should never be returned to situations where their basic safety and wellbeing are at risk.
“The best interests of children must trump all other considerations,” Fore said.
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to pursue a more equitable world for every child. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.
UNICEF USA advances the global mission of UNICEF by rallying the American public to support the world’s most vulnerable children. Together, we are working toward a world that upholds the rights of all children and helps every child thrive. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.