NEW YORK, June 19, 2018 – Statement from UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore on situation of migrant children and families in the U.S.
Stories of children, some of them just babies, being separated from their parents as they seek safety in the US are heartbreaking.
Children – no matter where they come from or what their migration status – are children first and foremost. Those who were left with no option but to flee their homes have the right to be protected, access essential services, and be with their families – just like all children. It is the realization of these rights that gives every child the best chance at a healthy, happy and productive future.
Detention and family separation are traumatic experiences that can leave children more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and can create toxic stress which, as multiple studies have shown, can impact children’s long-term development.
Such practices are in no one’s best interests, least of all the children who most suffer their effects. The welfare of children is the most important consideration.
For decades, the U.S. Government and its people have supported our efforts to help child refugees, asylum seekers and migrants affected by crises across the globe. Whether it be war in Syria or South Sudan, famine in Somalia, or an earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. has been there to help, and take in, uprooted children.
I hope that the best interests of refugee and migrant children will be paramount in the application of U.S. asylum procedures and laws.