Category Archives: Children

Abuse, ‘survival sex’ a stark reality for child migrants: Report

Abuse photoChildren traveling with a caravan of migrants from Central America stand on the beach and near the border fence between Mexico and the US, prior to preparations for an asylum request in the US in Tijuana, Mexico [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

by Faras Ghani

Unaccompanied child migrants face dangerous journeys during transit, including abuse and detention, rights organisations have warned, highlighting significant failings in safeguarding unaccompanied minors.

A recent report by UNHCR revealed that nearly 140,000 people arrived in Greece, Italy and Spain in search of safety in 2018. Almost 11,000 of the new arrivals were unaccompanied children.

Additionally, according to the Red Cross, more than 300,000 unaccompanied child migrants are currently at high risk of sexual and gender-based violence during transit.

The perilous journey undertaken by these young migrants without an accompanying adult makes them vulnerable to being assaulted, sexually abused, raped, trafficked into sexual exploitation or forced into “survival sex”, according to an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) report Alone and Unsafe, which shows that the number of unaccompanied child migrants has grown five-fold in five years.

Europe accounted for more than half of unaccompanied minor arrivals in 2017, with more than 158,000 reaching the continent in the first three quarters of the year.

Currently, almost 30 percent of all asylum seekers across that continent are children, half of whom are from just three countries: Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The stark reality is that it is now standard practice that children moving through the Mediterranean are abused, trafficked, beaten and discriminated against,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe.

A joint UNICEF-IOM report also revealed that children from sub-Saharan Africa are targeted more than any other group, highlighting discrimination and racism along transit routes.

The reason for their departure ranges from abuse at home and peer pressure to violence, says IFRC President Francesco Rocca, who called on UN member countries to address the root causes.

“In Cox’s Bazar, for example, we saw many children with their neighbours because their parents were killed,” Rocca told Al Jazeera.

“In Niger, we see young girls from Nigeria who sold themselves for sex for as low as $3. In Central America, there’s violence that drives them out. It creates a very, very difficult environment for them to live in.”

More support needed
More than 40 percent of all child asylum seekers are girls. A poll by UNICEF late last year revealed that almost half of nearly 4,000 refugees and migrants aged 14 to 24 were forced to leave their countries, 44 percent of them left alone.

Some 38 percent said they did not receive any help from anyone, including family, friends or relatives, while almost half the respondents reported that they had been unable to see a doctor when needed.

“While politicians are squabbling over migration, 4,000 uprooted children and young people are telling us they need more support,” said Laurence Chandy, Director of Data, Research and Policy for UNICEF.

“Uprooted children can teach us a great deal about their needs and vulnerabilities if we are willing to hear them. Migration is inevitable, but the danger and discrimination experienced by refugee and migrant children doesn’t have to be.”

The risks, including sexual and gender-based violence, do not abate once these child migrants arrive in a country of destination, according to the IFRC.

A study, based on interviews with unaccompanied children from Horn of Africa countries who migrated to the United Kingdom, revealed that 72 percent of the respondents experienced more than one incident of sexual violence upon arrival – most of these incidents happened in the first 12 months after their arrival in the UK.

This shows that their safety is not guaranteed, even after reaching the desired destination country, added Rocca.

“If there isn’t enough protection in the country of destination, there is a very high risk of being exploited and exposed to the violence. These vulnerable people can also be forced to the labour market.”

 

 

 

 
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/abuse-survival-sex-stark-reality-child-migrants-report-190204113958830.html

Human trafficker at London Olympics gets 30 year prison sentence in U.S.

Trafficking 2A child waves an Union flag near Olympic rings at the entrance of the venue for the men’s modern pentathlon during the London 2012 Olympics at Greenwich Park August 11, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Jason Fields

WASHINGTON,  (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – An “evil” man who tried to traffic a teenage boy into London to be sold for sex during the 2012 Olympics has been sentenced to 30 years in a U.S. prison, in a case of human trafficking that draws attention during international sporting events.

Jason Gandy was stopped in July 2012 by immigration officers in Britain who suspected something was wrong with the adult man traveling with an unrelated 15-year-old boy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

British authorities sent Gandy home to Houston, Texas for trial.

He was convicted of sex trafficking of minors in July and sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal who told him: “You are evil, and most evil are those who willingly exploit others for their own gratification.”

Along with the incident at the London Olympics, there were reports of Nigerians taken to Russia for sex during the World Cup this past summer and, in the United States, football’s Super Bowl also draws concerns over trafficking.

However experts are split on whether such spectacles actively fuel trafficking. Many say the commercial sex market grows during any number of large events and caution that such concern draws attention away from what is a year-round crime.

Some 1.5 million people in the United States are estimated to be victims of trafficking, mostly for sexual exploitation. The majority are children, according to a U.S. Senate report published last year.

Globally, nearly 21 million people are victims of human trafficking, a $150 billion industry, according to the United Nation’s International Labour Organization.

Of that total, an estimated 4.5 million people are forced into sex work, and children are estimated to comprise 5.5 million of the overall victims, according to the ILO.

In Gandy’s case, the man paid for the boy’s airfare and passport, U.S. officials said.

He planned to make the boy perform massages and sex acts with customers, taking advantage of the crowds gathered for the Olympics, they said.

He also molested the boy himself, they said.

Men who survived Gandy’s molestation testified at his sentencing about their ordeals being enslaved at a massage operation Gandy ran out of his home in Houston, prosecutors said.
http://news.trust.org/item/20181219193057-d1lsq

Hundreds of trafficked children go missing from UK care homes

Trafficking photoARCHIVE PHOTO: A girl looks out over fog covered Leicestershire countryside, central England REUTERS/Darren Staples

Findings raise doubts about Britain’s ability to care for
vulnerable children at time when record number of suspected
child slaves are being referred to government

By Kieran Guilbert

LONDON, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A growing number of
trafficked children in Britain are going missing from care
homes, with some feared to be returning to their traffickers
after being treated like criminals or illegal immigrants by
authorities, two charities said on Wednesday.

A quarter of the 1,015 identified or suspected child
trafficking victims in the care of local authorities went
missing at least once last year – 246 children compared to 167
in 2015 – according to research by ECPAT UK and Missing
People.

The child victims reported as missing from care disappeared
seven times on average. Their reasons for running away
included poor accommodation, fear of authorities and the
ongoing control of human traffickers, the charities said in a
report.

The findings raise doubts about Britain’s ability to care for
vulnerable children at a time when a record number of
suspected child slaves are being referred to the government –
2,118 last year and up two-thirds on 2016 – campaigners said.

“Trafficked and unaccompanied children continue to be failed
by the system which should be safeguarding and protecting
them,” said Jane Hunter, senior research manager at Missing
People.

“(They) are particularly vulnerable, and may go back into a
highly exploitative situation to those they were trafficked
by.”

Britain’s Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said
that any missing child was cause for “serious concern”.

“We require all care placements to have clear procedures in
place to prevent children from going missing,” he said in a
statement.

About a fifth of the 975 trafficked or unaccompanied children
reported as missing from care in Britain last year have not
yet been found, according to the charities’ data.

“I can see why young people run away to their trafficker,” one
child who went missing from care was quoted anonymously as
saying in the report. “It is ‘better the devil you know’.”

Despite being hailed as a global leader in the anti-slavery
drive, Britain said in July it would review its landmark 2015
law amid criticism that it is not being used fully to jail
traffickers, drive firms to stop forced labour, or help
victims.

Many child victims of trafficking are convicted of crimes they
are forced to commit in captivity – such as drug offences on
cannabis farms where many Vietnamese teenagers are found – and
are later refused asylum, lawyers and campaigners have said.

Between 2015 and 2017, Britain denied asylum to 183 people
trafficked as children from nations such as Vietnam – double
the total for the previous three years – government data
obtained exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation
revealed in July.

“Too often these children are treated as criminals or
immigration offenders, rather than vulnerable children
requiring support,” said Catherine Baker, ECPAT’s senior
research officer.

Britain is home to at least 136,000 modern slaves, according
to the Global Slavery Index by rights group Walk Free
Foundation – a figure 10 times higher than a government
estimate from 2013.
http://news.trust.org/item/20181219170931-4fzv8/

The Long, Brutal U.S. War on Children in the Middle East

children photo

When children waste away to literally nothing while fourteen million people face conflict driven famine, a hue and cry—yes, a caterwaul —most certainly should be raised, worldwide.

by Kathy Kelly

On November 28, sixty-three U.S. Senators voted in favor of holding a floor debate on a resolution calling for an end to direct U.S. Armed Forces involvement in the Saudi-UAE coalition-led war on Yemen. Describing the vote as a rebuke to Saudi Arabia and the Trump Administration, AP reported on Senate dissatisfaction over the administration’s response to Saudi Arabia’s brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi last month. Just before the Senate vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called current objections to U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia “Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on.”

The “caterwaul” on Capitol Hill reflects years of determined effort by grassroots groups to end U.S. involvement in war on Yemen, fed by mounting international outrage at the last three years of war that have caused the deaths of an estimated 85,000 Yemeni children under age five.

When children waste away to literally nothing while fourteen million people endure conflict-driven famine, a hue and cry—yes, a caterwaul —most certainly should be raised, worldwide.

How might we understand what it would mean in the United States for fourteen million people in our country to starve? You would have to combine the populations of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and imagine these cities empty of all but the painfully and slowly dying, to get a glimpse into the suffering in Yemen, where one of every two persons faces starvation.

Antiwar activists have persistently challenged elected representatives to acknowledge and end the horrible consequences of modern warfare in Yemen where entire neighborhoods have been bombed, displacing millions of people; daily aerial attacks have directly targeted Yemen’s infrastructure, preventing delivery of food, safe water, fuel, and funds. The war crushes people through aerial bombing and on-the-ground fighting as well as an insidious economic war.

Yemenis are strangled by import restrictions and blockades, causing non-payment of government salaries, inflation, job losses, and declining or disappearing incomes. Even when food is available, ordinary Yemenis cannot afford it.

Starvation is being used as a weapon of war—by Saudi Arabia, by the United Arab Emirates, and by the superpower patrons including the United States that arm and manipulate both countries.

During the thirteen years of economic sanctions against Iraq— those years between the Gulf War and the devastating U.S.-led “Shock and Awe” war that followed—I joined U.S. and U.K. activists traveling to Iraq in public defiance of the economic sanctions.

We aimed to resist U.S.- and U.K.-driven policies that weakened the Iraqi regime’s opposition more than they weakened Saddam Hussein. Ostensibly democratic leaders were ready to achieve their aims by brutally sacrificing children under age five. The children died first by the hundreds, then by the thousands and eventually by the hundreds of thousands. Sitting in a Baghdad pediatric ward, I heard a delegation member, a young nurse from the U.K., begin to absorb the cruelty inflicted on mothers and children.

“I think I understand,” murmured Martin Thomas, “It’s a death row for infants.” Children gasped their last breaths while their parents suffered a pile-up of anguish, wave after wave. We should remain haunted by those children’s short lives.

The Iraq children died amid an eerie and menacing silence on the part of mainstream media and most elected U.S. officials. No caterwauling was heard on Capitol Hill. But, worldwide, people began to know that children were paying the price of abysmally failed policies, and millions of people opposed the 2003 Shock and Awe war.

Still the abusive and greedy policies continue. The U.S. and its allies built up permanent warfare states to secure consistent exploitation of resources outside their own territories.

During and after the Arab Spring, numerous Yemenis resisted dangerously unfair austerity measures that the Gulf Cooperation Council and the U.S. insisted they must accept. Professor Isa Blumi, who notes that generations of Yemeni fighters have refused to acquiesce to foreign invasion and intervention, presents evidence that Saudi Arabia and the UAE now orchestrate war on Yemen to advance their own financial interests.

In the case of Saudi Arabia, Blumi states that although Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman wants to author an IPO (Initial Public Offering), for the Saudi state oil company, Aramco, no major investors would likely participate. Investment firms know the Saudis pay cash for their imports, including billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry, because they are depleting resources within their own territory. This, in part, explains the desperate efforts to take over Yemen’s offshore oil reserves and other strategic assets.

Recent polls indicate that most Americans don’t favor U.S. war on Yemen. Surely, our security is not enhanced if the U.S. continues to structure its foreign policy on fear, prejudice, greed, and overwhelming military force. The movements that pressured the U.S. Senate to reject current U.S. foreign policy regarding Saudi Arabia and its war on Yemen will continue raising voices. Collectively, we’ll work toward raising the lament, pressuring the media and civil society to insist that slaughtering children will never solve problems.

 

https://progressive.org/dispatches/the-long-brutal-u-s-war-on-children-in-the-middle-east-181129/

Guatemalan migrant girl, seven, dies in US border patrol custody *Girl named as Jakelin Caal was arrested after crossing border *Father told US officials his daughter was sick and vomiting

Migrant photo     A US border patrol agent keeps watch on the US-Mexico border

US border control agents have reported an increasing number of large groups of immigrants, many with young children, turning themselves in. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Amanda Holpuch in New York

A seven-year-old girl who crossed a remote part of the US-Mexico border with her father last week died less than two days after being apprehended by the US border patrol in New Mexico, immigration officials have said.

The girl vomited and stopped breathing in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before being transferred to a hospital, where she suffered brain swelling and cardiac arrest, according to CBP.

The CBP commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, identified the girl as Jakelin Caal Maquin. “We welcome the Department of Homeland Security’s investigation and will review the incident operationally to learn from this tragedy,” McAleenan said.

The girl and her father, both from Guatemala, were traveling in a group of 163 people, including 50 children who were traveling without a parent, when they were apprehended at around 9.15pm on 6 December.

Four border patrol agents were on the scene, according to CBP and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, who said it was not unusual for a small group of agents to confront large groups of migrants.

The agents conducted a screening that included a health observation. Her father indicated his daughter was healthy on a form officials said was in English but would have been marked according to a Spanish interview with the father.

They were held in a small facility near the border before being transferred by bus to a border patrol station 95 miles away. At that facility, officials said people had access to food, water and restrooms.

On the bus, just before 5 am, the father told agents his child was sick and vomiting, then personnel at their destination were notified about the medical situation, officials said. Once they arrived, about an hour later, the father told agents his child was not breathing. Emergency medical technicians revived her twice before she was taken by air ambulance to a children’s hospital in El Paso, Texas.

Officials said later that morning Jakelin went into cardiac arrest, showed signs of brain swelling in a scan, was breathing by machine and had liver failure.

She died at 12:35 am on Saturday with her father on the scene, officials said.

“On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the child,” a CBP spokesperson said. “Border patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances. As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathize with the loss of any child.”

The CBP said it will investigate the incident and that an autopsy of the girl is expected.

The girl was suffering from dehydration and shock, according to CBP records seen by the Washington Post. The agency told the Post the girl “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days”. The CBP did not confirm those details to the Guardian.

In response to the death, the White House, CBP and DHS repeatedly emphasized that the journey to the northern border is “extremely dangerous” because of the threat of violence, trafficking, extreme weather and wild animals. They said people should arrive at designated ports of entry instead of at other places on the 2,000-mile border.

But migrant rights groups say the Trump administration is exacerbating those dangers by limiting how many people can present for asylum at designated ports of entry.

Journalists and humanitarian groups have documented the US government limiting how many people can present themselves for asylum each day at ports of entry in a practice known as “metering”.

And in October, the DHS’s watchdog, the office of inspector general, said there were documented incidents of people being turned away at ports of entry and told to return when it was less busy. The report said there was evidence “limiting the volume of asylum seekers entering at ports of entry leads some aliens who would otherwise seek legal entry into the United States to cross the border illegally.”

The Trump administration also tried to bar people from seeking asylum outside ports of entry, but a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the ban because he said the government could not prove it was legal. On Tuesday, the Trump administration asked the supreme court to reinstate the ban.

The White House deputy press secretary, Hogan Gidley, said the girl’s death was tragic. She said: “If we could just come together and pass some commonsense laws to disincentivize people from coming up from the border and encourage them to do it the right way, the legal way, then those types of deaths, those types of assaults, those types of rapes, the child smuggling, the human trafficking … that would all come to an end.”

Cynthia Pompa, the advocacy manager for the ACLU border rights centre, said the number of migrant deaths had increased last year even as the number of border crossings fell.

“This tragedy represents the worst possible outcome when people, including children, are held in inhumane conditions. Lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP have exacerbated policies that lead to migrant deaths,” Pompa said.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/14/guatemalan-girl-aged-seven-dies-in-custody-on-us-mexican-border

Child soldiers of South Sudan

Child soilder photo

Former child soldiers during the release ceremony, outside Yambio in South Sudan. One hundred twenty-eight children (90 boys and 38 girls) were officially released at this ceremony by two armed groups, bringing the total number released this year to over 900. ANDREEA CAMPEANU/AL JAZEERA

by Andreea Campeanu & Patricia Huon

Yambio, South Sudan – On the red, dusty ground in Yambio, under a large mango tree, a group of 30 girls and boys, some wearing military clothes and some with guns next to them, sit in the shade eating biscuits while waiting for the start of the ceremony to release them from the army.

The US ambassador and other guests are coming from the capital Juba to attend the event.

They are part of the 900 children released from the armed forces in South Sudan in 2018, the country with one of the largest number of child soldiers in the world. The ceremony consists of them symbolically taking off the military clothes, and receiving blue UNICEF labelled notebooks and schoolbags.

According to the UN, there are still 19,000 children in armed forces in South Sudan, a number contested by the army. “We have concerns about the figures published by UNICEF. We don’t know how they came up with those numbers. Now, it’s true that some other groups that were integrated into the SPLA had child soldiers among them. But our policy is clear: we don’t want child soldiers,” said Lul Ruai Koang, the spokesperson for the South Sudan’s People Defence Force (former SPLA). “We gave their names to UNICEF. In Pibor or Yambio, they have been demobilised. We facilitate the process. After, it’s their responsibility to help them.”

Many of the children in the ceremony have already returned to their communities before the official release. They received medical screenings, counselling and psychosocial support as part of their rehabilitation, and some were assisted to return to school, while others received vocational training. Their families were also provided with food assistance.

But across South Sudan and in refugee camps outside the country, there are children and youth who left or escaped from the armed forces but received no assistance and have not been through a rehabilitation programme. Depending on age, boys are either used as porters, cleaners, or are trained to fight. Girls are often taken as “wives”, and often return in their communities with children.

“We see depression, anxiety. They have intrusive thoughts that come back. That can be triggered by something happening, but of which they have no control. That can affect their functionality,” says Rayan Fattouch, mental health specialist working in Yambio with Doctors Without Borders (known by its French initials, MSF).

MSF is medically screening the children who were associated with armed groups. Part of it is the mental health aspect. They are dealing with children and young adults who are facing “moderate to severe trauma”.

“The child needs to feel embraced by his community. And that can change from one community to another, depending on the experiences they have been through. They have their own trauma,” said Fattouch

Link

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/child-soldiers-south-sudan

Yemen famine

Yemen on brink of ‘world’s worst famine in 100 years’ if war continues

UN warns that famine could overwhelm country in next three months, with 13 million people at risk of starvation

Hannah Summer
The Guardian Global Development, October 15, 2018

Famine

Malnourished boys in a malnutrition treatment centre in Sana’a, Yemen. Photograph: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

Yemen could be facing the worst famine in 100 years if airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition are not halted, the UN has warned.

If war continues, famine could engulf the country in the next three months, with 12 to 13 million civilians at risk of starvation, according to Lise Grande, the agency’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.

She told the BBC: “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union – that was just unacceptable. “Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”

Yemen has been in the grip of a bloody civil war for three years after Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, seized much of the country, including the capital, Sana’a. The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the rebels since 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government.

Thousands of civilians have been caught in the middle, trapped by minefields and barrages of mortars and airstrikes. The resulting humanitarian catastrophe has seen at least 10,000 people killed and millions displaced.

Speaking on Sunday evening, Grande said: “There’s no question we should be ashamed, and we should, every day that we wake up, renew our commitment to do everything possible to help the people that are suffering and end the conflict.”

Her comments came after the UN and humanitarian workers condemned an airstrike in which the Saudi-led coalition targeted Yemen’s Shia rebels, killing at least 15 people near the port city of Hodeidah.

Video footage released by the rebels showed the remains of a mangled minibus littered with groceries following the attack on Saturday, which left 20 others injured.
The Houthi rebels reported that five members of the same family were among those killed, adding that many children were among the casualties.

“The United Nations agencies working in Yemen unequivocally condemn the attack on civilians and extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” said Grande.
She added: “Under international humanitarian law, parties to the conflict are obliged to respect the principles of precaution, proportionality and distinction. Belligerents must do everything possible to protect civilians not hurt, maim, injure or kill them.”

Hodeidah, with its key port installations that bring in UN and other humanitarian aid, has become the centre of Yemen’s conflict, with ground troops allied to the coalition struggling to drive out the rebels controlling it.

The killing and maiming of civilians including many children in the Red Sea city of has soared in the last three months according to aid workers.

Since June more than 170 people have been killed and at least 1,700 have been injured in Hodeidah province, with more than 425,000 people forced to flee their homes.
A Gulf coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has been trying to wrestle back control of the strategic port city.

If the array of Yemeni militias takes the city it would be their biggest victory against the rebels, although the battle on the Red Sea coast also threatens to throw Yemen into outright famine.

Last month Save the Children warned the fighting was turning into a “war on children” with thousands suffering life-changing injuries in the attacks.

On a visit to Yemen the charity’s CEO, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, warned attacks on schools and hospitals were on the rise, with children on the frontline of violence and medics unable to cope with the influx of the wounded.

Meanwhile the country’s currency has collapsed and food prices have doubled in the last month, fueling the threat of famine.