UN Agencies refine their strategies for the assistance of migrant children in Mexico
In 2016 more that 40 thousand boys, girls and adolescents were identified in Mexico, as they attempted to cross the country in irregular conditions. A good part of them, more than 20 thousand, migrated alone, with no adult company. During the first quarter of 2017, the Mexican authorities reported almost 5 thousand migrant boys, girls and adolescents in their territory, many of them still waiting for a decision to be made over their situation in shelters and receiving institutions.
This challenge has led United Nations agencies in the south of Mexico to develop an integrated strategy to support the institutions that attend this part of the population in the context of human mobility.
Officers of the state systems for the assistance of children in three states (Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas), in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), concluded in May a cycle of three training sessions which had as an objective to strengthen the assistance mechanisms for migrant children, including children with international protection needs, from a comprehensive protection approach.
The support and coordination of the System for the Integrated Development of the Family (DIF), the System for the Local Protection of Childhood (SIPINNA) of each state, and in the case of Oaxaca, the Attorney for the Protection of the DIF system, was vital for the success of the project.
The last one of these sessions took place on the 16th and 17th of May in Tapachula, Chiapas and counted with the presence of more than 30 institutions and organizations involved in the attention of unaccompanied migrant children.
This project is rooted on the need of adding complementing efforts and offering useful information for officers and civil society to have an effect over a better identification, assistance and reference of cases of migrants in vulnerable condition and/or with international protection needs.
Previously, the three UN agencies had met to unify the criteria for the new protection mechanisms under the framework of the recently created General Law on the Rights of Boys, Girls and Adolescents. This law is considered as a right guarantee, presenting an opportunity for a change in all sectors involved in the attention of children. However, some challenges in the implementation have also been identified.
Claudette Walls, coordinator of the Mesoamerica Project in Mexico, expressed that the protection of migrant children is not a new subject, however, it gained relevance three years ago when the number of migrant boys, girls and adolescents, in particular those who were unaccompanied, grew. “This specific population, due to its vulnerable conditions, requires differentiated assistance with respect to adult migrants. This assistance must guarantee this part of the population with access to their rights, widely mentioned in normative instruments on the subject, including those who request asylum in Mexico. Because of such, the decision to work in an alliance was taken”, she said.
Deifilia Vadillo Gomez, State Attorney for the Protection of the Family and the Rights of Girls, Boys and Adolescents in Tabasco, commented that working with UN Agencies, has allowed for the training of officers and members of civil society to work in favour of children and youth who seek shelter, especially in her own state.
On the other side, Karla Gallo Campos, National Protection Officer of UNICEF Mexico, said that this is a great opportunity to transform and make the focus on the rights of migrant girls, boys and adolescents a reality, by also making the General and State Laws on the subject a reality.
Since the General Law on the Rights of Girls, Boys and Adolescents was published in Mexico in December of 2014, and consequently, the State laws on the subject in 2015, the Systems for the Integrated Protection of Girls, Boys and Girls (SIPINNA) were installed to work on and follow up on these national and state policies.
Here are some of the moments of these weeks of intense work in the following video.