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Honduras calls for curbing crime to fight child migration

17 july 2014, 13:26

Honduras called for international efforts to fight organized crime to deter minors from leaving Central America to illegally enter the United States, where rights officials warned youths can face abuse, AFP reports.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez suggested putting in place programs similar to US-funded efforts in Mexico and Colombia set up to help eradicate drug production by supporting alternative crops.

"Papering over (problems) will not resolve anything" Hernandez said at the beginning of a two-day International Conference on Migration, Childhood and Family, adding that countries must address "the root of the problem" together.

Jose Miguel Insulza, leader of the Organization of American States, meanwhile called for a regional action plan to address the crisis-level migration of young people in a "comprehensive manner."

The United States has seen a huge surge in young migrants fleeing gang violence and poverty in Central America -- mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

US officials say they have detained more than 57,000 unaccompanied children trying to enter the country since October 2013.

Human rights ombudsmen from the three countries urged the United States to put the children's best interests first, and charged that the youngsters can face rights abuses inside the United States.

"Migration has created a humanitarian crisis in terms of the protection of their childhoods... that violates their dignity and human rights," Ernesto Morales Cruz of El Salvador, Jorge De Leon Duque of Guatemala and Roberto Herrera Caceres of Honduras said in a joint statement.

Children suffer in the United States from "physical and psychological abuse, inadequate access to food and water, and overcrowding and other unhealthy conditions in cells and at migration detention centers," they added.

The White House said earlier that the deportation of 40 women and children to Honduras was a sign that illegal immigrants would not be welcomed with "open arms" amid the border crisis.

Hernandez said minors were coming from "the areas with the most violence, crime and drug trafficking, and we are aware that poverty and limited development of opportunities is a constant in these areas."

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