‘More and more on the move’. Record number of migrant children in Latin America and Caribbean, UN warns
The number of migrant children in Latin America and the Caribbean has reached a record high, with more than 26 million children and adolescents on the move, the United Nations warned. The vast majority of these migrants are children and adolescents under the age of 18 who have been compelled to flee their homes in search of a better life elsewhere. Data released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and its Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean indicates that, in 2019, the number of migrant children in the region reached its highest recorded level. The number of international migrants more than doubled between 2000 and 2019, from 11.2 million to 23 million. At the same time, the number of internal migrants nearly tripled, from 12 million to 34 million. UNFPA estimates that 26.7 million people in the region are on the move, with 21.3 million international migrants and 5.4 million internal ones. The majority of internal migrants (44%) are children, nearly all of them under 18 years old. Overall, migrant children are at increasing risk of exploitation, violence and abuse, as well as lacking access to health and education services. The UN agency is calling on governments of the region to prioritize the protection of the rights of migrant children, particularly those who are unaccompanied or separated from their families. UNFPA is also emphasizing the need for governments to implement policies and services for all migrants, regardless of their legal status, in order to ensure their safety and protection.