Date Publish: 
Thursday, March 31, 2016

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) led a dialogue to discuss the challenges encountered in the field on the matter of unaccompanied migrant children returned to Guatemala and the efforts of the Jimmy Morales’ administration serve this population guaranteeing their fundamental rights.

The event was attended by IOM’s National Coordinator for Guatemala, José Diego Cardenas; Secretary of Social Works of the Wife of the President (SOSEP), Jose Maria Godoy; the representative of the Department of Migrant Unaccompanied Children of the Ministry of Social Welfare of the Presidency (SBS), Golda Ibarra; the Chief of the Unit for Children and Adolescents of the Attorney General's Office, Harold Flores; and Guatemalan photojournalist Esteban Biba, among others.

This dialogue was developed in the framework of the project Comprehensive Assistance to Families and Migrant Unaccompanied Children returned to the Northern Triangle of Central America, implemented by IOM since the humanitarian crisis declared in October 2014, with funding from the Agency of the United States International Development (USAID).

In the period 2014 - 2016 and in the context of the project, IOM has directly assisted nearly 40,000 returning migrants from El Salvador (10,496), Guatemala (12,132) and Honduras (15.815). This has meant delivering a total of 40.715 food packages; 21.388 hygiene kits; 24,843 shuttle bus transfers; and 4,463 medical and psychological consultations. Also, IOM has supported the Central American Northern Triangle countries with the renovation and reconstruction of nine entry points, among which there are shelters and reception centres. In Guatemala, the reconstruction works were made in the Guatemalan Air Base and in the Casa Nuestra Shelters that are established in Guatemala City and in Quetzaltenango.

Following the debate, Esteban Biba’s exhibition called Niñez sin País opened, portraying a personal vision of the journalist of the path of unaccompanied migrant children from the Northern Triangle of Central America that travelled to the north of the continent. This exhibition seeks to generate deliberation on the issue and raise awareness of the reality of hundreds of children and adolescents. "The poor families in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are vulnerable and undertake one of the most dangerous journeys for humanity: irregular migration through Mexico to the United States", said Biba.

The photographic exhibition will be open until April 29th at Casa Ibarguen, a historical public property managed by the Municipality of Guatemala. The 25 photographs on display were taken in the border city Tecun Uman, and on some routes in the Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. The images of children, adolescents and returnee families were collected at the Guatemalan Air Force (FAG).

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For more information, please contact Melissa Vega, IOM Guatemala, email [email protected]