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CRS to Senate: Violence Is Driving Surge in Unaccompanied Children

July 16, 2014 by

When the CRS program Youth Builders was implemented in the community of Los Atlantas, in El Salvador, participants turned this soccer court – which had been a dangerous gang war post – into a peaceful place. Photo by Silverlight for CRS

When the CRS program Youth Builders was implemented in the community of Los Atlantas, in El Salvador, participants turned this soccer court—which had been a dangerous gang war post—into a peaceful place. Photo by Silverlight for CRS

Catholic Relief Services’ Rick Jones, the deputy regional director for Global Solidarity and Justice for Latin American and the Caribbean, testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today on the current spike of unaccompanied Central American children fleeing violence and crossing into other Central American countries and the United States, creating a refugee situation.

In his testimony, Jones states:

“Increasing desperation has led many families, youth and children to the inevitable conclusion that they have no choice but to flee. They are primarily fleeing violence, not poverty. They aren’t just coming to the United States; in fact, other Central American countries have experienced a 712% increase in asylum claims between 2008-2013. We are witnessing the results of the drug war and gangs: child refugees.”

Read Rick Jones’ full testimony, and also read a brief summary of his testimony captured in tweets.

Rick Jones currently resides in El Salvador. To arrange for an interview, contact Alsy Acevedo at alsy.acevedo@crs.org or 410-951-7341.

Pope Francis also released a statement this week urging protection for unaccompanied children.

Additional resources:
Rick Jones’ bio
Child Migration study referred to in Jones’ testimony
Statement by Pope Francis on the situation of unaccompanied children

Related articles:
Vatican to Support Help for ‘Humanitarian Emergency’ of Child Migrants
New York Times: The Children of the Drug Wars
USCCB Says Dangerous Conditions Causing More Families to Send Children to U.S.
Podcast in Spanish - CRS en el Mundo: More Migrant Youth Fleeing Violence

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