The head of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, is a former Republican official. She served in George W. Bush’s administration as a top official at USAID, the State Department and even ran the US Mint for several years in the early 2000s. She was nominated to the position by Donald Trump and selected by Antonio Guterres to run the UN’s most visible agency.

This week, she visited Honduras which is experiencing an epidemic of violence against children.  Her statement from upon return from Honduras is worth reading in full.

“A child under the age of 18 dies from violence every day in Honduras. For a country not engaged in active warfare, this figure is staggering. 

“Despite its efforts to reduce violence and protect its youngest citizens, Honduras remains a dangerous place for far too many children and young people. Gangs terrorize neighborhoods across the country, offering young people an impossible choice: Join us or die.

“More than half a million children of secondary school age do not go to school, accounting for 1 in 2 adolescents in lower secondary and 2 in 3 in upper secondary. Dropping out of school is far too often the only way young people can escape gang threats, harassment and forced recruitment, particularly as they travel to and from school through gang-controlled areas.  

“The combination of violence, poverty and lack of education opportunities is causing thousands of children and families to flee their homes. Without access to protection and safe migration pathways, most are forced onto dangerous routes where they are at risk from violence, exploitation and abuse.

“In the words of a young woman I met in Paujiles, San Pedro Sula: ‘We are not migrating to have nicer lives – we are migrating to survive.’

“These children and young people need real investments in education, protection and other services that can help guide them towards a more hopeful future while also reducing some of the causes that drive them to flee.

“UNICEF is committed to working with governments, the private sector and international financial institutions to make transformative investments in education – particularly in the countries of northern Central America – to increase educational participation, attainment and learning outcomes with an emphasis on new technology.

“UNICEF is also working with partners in Honduras to provide children and young people with safe spaces to play, learn and receive training. Those who have been returned to Honduras receive counselling, help returning to school and guidance on the services available to them.  

“Unless the root causes of migration are addressed, children and families will continue to embark on dangerous migration journeys. Funding programmes to end violence, develop skills and create education opportunities will help create the environment these children need to build their futures at home.”  (emphasis added)

Fore’s visit to Honduras comes as the Trump administration is calling for the United States to suspend aid to Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador ostensably as a rebuke to those countries for being the source of migrants coming to the United States. But as numerous experts have pointed out, cutting off aid would exacerbate out-migration from those countries. In other words, this move would have the exact opposite effect from its intended purpose.

Now, you can ad the former Republican official and the woman Donald Trump tapped to lead the UNICEF as among those experts and officials who are cautioning against the reckless cut-off of aid to Central America.

 

 

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