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April 5, 2021

Children on the run

Editorial

 
April 5, 2021

According to a new report by Unicef, the number of children from Panama attempting to reach the US by crossing the dangerous Darien Jungle on foot has increased manifold over recent years. Unicef fears that the Covid-19 pandemic, which has badly hit Latin America, would lead to still more people attempting to flee. While the number of child migrants in 2007 accounted for just two percent of those trying to make it into the US in search of security, work, food, and jobs, this number has increased to 25 percent. This situation presents a global crisis that has been given too little attention. Parents who choose to attempt to bring small children through the forest or send somewhat older ones alone are obviously desperate and need to try and secure some kind of future for their offspring.

The US policy towards immigrants has been extremely hostile through the Trump era, which began in 2016. The Biden Administration has been reviewing the situation and attempting to decide how to handle unaccompanied children who cross over into the US illegally. In some cases, children are sent across in the hope that they will be given home, or at least food and shelter in the US. This is not always correct, but in South America, many families believe this is their only hope to secure a better future for their children and in some cases for the future of their families. The fact that there are so many children in danger in the world, with some attempting to make it across dangerous oceans, rivers or forests to reach more developed and more food-secure or safer countries speaks about the situation of the world in which we live.

Wealth is shared so unevenly that a handful of countries, and in them a handful of individuals, own the vast majority of it. The rest are left to fend for themselves in the most impossible situations, with Covid-19 now making it even more difficult to earn a basic wage or to obtain enough food to run a small household. Immigration into the US from Latin America has gone on for decades. It has proved impossible to stop it despite the sometimes barbaric measures taken by the US at its border with Mexico and other countries in the region. But a true solution would lie in providing more help to these countries so that their children are secure at home and don’t need to make dangerous journeys across unknown terrains simply in order to live.