The US has deported at least 1,000 migrant children since early March, UNICEF said Thursday.
The unaccompanied children have been returned to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras amid the coronavirus pandemic, which the UN children agency said poses “serious protection risks.”
They are facing violence and discrimination because of the perception they have contracted the virus, said the agency.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore warned of worsening COVID-19 situation for children on the move in the region.
“Discrimination and attacks are now added to existing threats like gang violence that drove these children to leave in the first place,” said Fore.
UNICEF urged governments to “end pushbacks and deportations of unaccompanied or separated children,” and take further measures to protect “the wellbeing of uprooted” children.
After originating in China last December, COVID-19 has spread to 188 countries and regions across the world. Europe and the US are currently the worst-hit regions.
The pandemic has killed more than 329,800 people, with more than 5 million cases and 1.9 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.
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