Pope calls for protection of unaccompanied child migrants

Pope calls for protection of unaccompanied child migrants

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a message to the “Mexico/Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development”, urging protection for tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who are migrating North from Central America and Mexico in increasing numbers.

The Holy Father’s letter was read to conference participants by Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre.  The conference was also attended by the Vatican’s secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

In his message Pope Francis writes that globalization has rendered migration a “hallmark” of society today.  Despite this it is still seen as an emergency or as a circumstantial phenomenon.

Above all, the Pope’s thoughts go to “the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence”.  He says, “this is a category of migrants …who cross the border with the United States under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain”. He notes that the numbers of children undertaking this hazardous journey “are increasing day by day”.

Pope Francis calls for “the international community to pay attention to this challenge” and for measures to be taken by the countries involved. These include policies to inform the public of the dangers of the trip north and to promote development of the migrants’ countries of origin.

US authorities have detained some 57,000 unaccompanied minors since October, twice the number from the same period a year ago. Mexican authorities have picked up 8,000 child migrants in the first five months of the year, and more than half of them were traveling by themselves.

Addressing the Colloquium, Cardinal Parolin stated: “Whether they are traveling because of poverty, or violence, or with the hope of reuniting with relatives on the other side of the border, it is urgent to protect them and help them because their vulnerability is greater and they are defenseless against any abuse or misfortune”.