UNICEF concerned about situation of Haitian families being expelled from U.S. border

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday voiced concern about the situation of Haitian families, particularly children, being expelled from the U.S. border.

According to UNICEF initial estimates, over two in three Haitian migrants who have been returned to Port-au-Prince are women and children. Some of them are newborn babies, with specific and immediate needs, said UNICEF in a press release.

"Haiti is reeling from the triple tragedy of natural disasters, gang violence and the COVID-19 pandemic," said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director. "When children and families are sent back without adequate protection, they find themselves even more vulnerable to violence, poverty and displacement -- factors that drove them to migrate in the first place."

Initial assessments in Mexico and Haiti suggest that many of the children under 10 were born outside Haiti or lived most of their lives in another country, said UNICEF.

The fund also voiced concern about the situation of Haitian families in Del Rio, Texas, where about 40 percent of Haitian migrants are children, living in overcrowded and inadequate conditions and needing basic humanitarian support, said UNICEF.

In Haiti, UNICEF will provide returning children with psychosocial support, protection services and education supplies, in coordination with national authorities and the International Organization for Migration, the fund said.

But with more support in need, UNICEF urges all actors to refrain from any use of force at borders, to keep families together, and to properly assess migrants' protection needs before any decision on return is made. Children should never be returned to situations where their basic safety and well-being are at risk, said the fund.

"The best interests of children must trump all other considerations," said Fore in the press release. Enditem

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