MATAMOROS, MEXICO, 31 January 2020 – An estimated 2,200 migrants and asylum seekers, including 700 children, are effectively stranded in the Mexican border city of Matamoros as they wait for their asylum cases to work their way through the U.S. court system. Conditions for children and families on the ground, many of whom have been waiting at the border for weeks or months, are difficult because of insecurity and limited access to essential services.
UNICEF Mexico is now responding to the humanitarian situation in Matamoros to reach children and families in need. These efforts include:
- Creating child-friendly spaces and providing psychosocial support;
- Providing Early Childhood Development (ECD) interventions;
- Coordinating water, sanitation and hygiene services; and
- Working in the community to protect migrant children and keep families together.
UNICEF strongly urges Mexican institutions to implement the Protocol for the Protection of Migrant Children, developed by the Government. The Protocol establishes the necessary interventions that Mexican institutions should provide when a migrant child enters the territory to guarantee that their rights are fulfilled.
“It is important that the Protocol for the Protection of Migrant Children is implemented by the Government of Mexico as soon as possible,” said Pressia Arifin-Cabo, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Mexico. “We are currently monitoring the situation of migrant children and adolescents in Matamoros and we need to ensure that they are protected from their place of origin, during transit and towards their final destination. We need to act now because children cannot wait.”
In the Matamoros encampment near the bridge to the U.S. lives Manny, a five-year-old from Honduras. Manny says he has been there for a long time without much to do. He does not have a safe place to play.
“There’s uncertainty on what is going to happen to these children and adolescents,” said Arifin-Cabo. “The instability impacts their well-being and has consequences for their survival and development. The anxiety of small children is evident when they are far from their parents, even when it is only for a moment.”