In Search of Best Practice
Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson
Chapter 24: In search of solutions for unaccompanied children fleeing Central America
This chapter discusses efforts to address the crisis of unaccompanied children fleeing from the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) by two key actors: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN agency charged with the responsibility of overseeing the protection of refugees worldwide, and the United States. The United States, where the large majority of these children attempt to migrate in the belief that it offers the greatest possibility for protection, has focused on short-term, small impact responses. UNHCR, true to its mandate and commitment, is undertaking a multilayered, multilateral, comprehensive approach that includes short-term programs to address the most immediate needs of the children and longer-term efforts that support addressing the root causes of the crisis. The background section of this chapter provides a snapshot of the often life-threatening reasons children are fleeing the region in such soaring numbers. The most compelling need for these children is to ensure they receive protection from harm. The meaning and sources of international and regional protection are presented next. UNHCR’s efforts to address the crisis of children from the region, followed by US programs, are discussed in sections 4 and 5. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the effectiveness of this work to meet the short-term and longer-term protection needs of unaccompanied children fleeing the NTCA.
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