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Children Believe virtual panel to explore ongoing issue of irregular migration

POSTED February 1, 2022

Children Believe virtual panel to explore ongoing issue of irregular migration

Successes and path forward to be discussed Wednesday, Feb. 9

Youth sit beside on another, smiling

As many countries see a rise in violence and societal breakdowns affecting their people, there’s a growing concern for safety and a perceived lack of future prosperity. As a result, irregular migration has increased dramatically in recent years.

It’s an issue Children Believe has been addressing with success in Central America and Mexico, and it will be the subject of an upcoming virtual panel, Feb. 9, titled Promising Solutions and Lessons in Addressing Irregular Migration of Children in Central America and Mexico. During the webinar, humanitarian sector experts, government leaders and youth will gather to explore solutions to this growing challenge.

Children Believe’s Preventing Irregular Child Migration in Central America project (PICMCA) has improved the lives of children at risk and removed many of the factors pushing them to leave their home communities. Results and methods will be presented at the panel discussion to spark conversation in hopes of inspiring further action.

“Tackling the root causes motivating children to leave their home was incredibly effective in reducing irregular migration,” says Fred Witteveen, CEO, Children Believe. “The project had a preventive approach and we worked through targeted investments in 155 at-risk communities. We strengthened child-protection services and violence-prevention programs, increased employment and entrepreneurship skills to help youth generate income and enabled gender-responsive engagement of youth with local, national and regional institutions.”

This global humanitarian issue, while extremely complex, is preventable, as demonstrated by Children Believe during the last five years (2017 to 2021). During this time, Children Believe has helped avert 180,000 vulnerable children, 620,000+ youth and an additional 483,000 adults — often the parents of these children — from choosing to migrate.

Led by Children Believe and in collaboration with its ChildFund Alliance partners, ChildFund International and Educo, PICMCA engaged children and youth in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Mexico.

The panel is part of Canada’s annual International Development Week and will be moderated by Susan Ormiston, an award-winning CBC News senior correspondent, who has decades of experience covering major global events as well as irregular migration to Canada.

Panellists include:

  • Fred Witteveen, Children Believe CEO
  • Dana Graber Ladek, chief of mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mexico
  • Soileh Padilla Mayer, first secretary, Embassy of Mexico in Canada
  • Meg Gardinier, secretary general, ChildFund Alliance
  • Maria Isabel Lopez, country director, Children Believe Nicaragua
  • Youth Ambassadors / PICMCA project participants
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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

Preventing Irregular Child Migration in Central America (PICMCA):

Children Believe is leading a $15.2-million regional project in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua, designed to improve the well-being of children and youth who are at risk of irregular migration. The Government of Canada is contributing $12.6 million to the four-year project. The initiative addresses a number of the root causes that fuel irregular migration — from high levels of crime and violence, limited employment and educational opportunities, to social exclusion and a lack of information on the inherent dangers of migrating without following the normal immigration procedures. For this project, Children Believe is partnering with two non-governmental organizations: ChildFund International-USA and Educo.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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