The number of children migrating to the United States alone, without a parent or guardian, has doubled every year since 2011 and skyrocketed in the first six months of 2014, as violence increases and transnational organized crime gains a foothold in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Gangs in these three countries, known as the Northern Triangle of Central America, recruit children as young as 10, threatening the lives of those who refuse to join.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been working with youth in Central America for years and knows first-hand how severe the situation is. CRS’ Country Representative in El Salvador, Erica Dahl-Bredine, told the New York Daily News “the gangs are now calling the shots.”
Many young people are also seeking refuge in neighboring countries, including Panama, Costa Rica and Belize, said Erica Dahl-Bredine, a country representative based in El Salvador for Catholic Relief Services.
Dahl-Bredine said that Salvadoran gang violence has grown in the last six to nine months as a truce falters. Honduras has also seen a sharp increase, she said.
“The gangs are now calling the shots. There are far more gang members than police officers in Honduras and El Salvador now,” said Dahl-Bredine.
Podcast in Spanish, CRS en el Mundo: More Migrant Youth Fleeing Violence