Thursday, July 10, 2014

Making a difference in the child migrant crisis : addressing the causes

The Rev. Colin Mathewson shares this information from the Foundation Cristosal, a  faith-based human rights and community development organization with Anglican roots that works in El Salvador, on ways they are working to help the root causes of the crisis. 

1. One-on-One Advising for Victims

Families targeted by gangs and organized crime in El Salvador have few options for safe relocation or police protection. They also have even less information to help them make potentially life-or-death decisions, with no government or social programs set up in-country to assist them. Cristosal's Human Rights Office is the ONLY program in El Salvador that provides one-on-one advising to victims of violence or threats of violence, helping them make informed decisions about how to protect themselves and their families.

José López, Director of the Human Rights Office, consults 
with residents of Las Anemonas outside the Ministry of Public Works.

2. Transforming the Root Causes through Community Development

In addressing Central American leaders, Vice President Joe Biden said, "the United States recognizes that a key part of the solution to this problem is to address the root causes of this immigration in the first place... so the people can stay and thrive in their own communities." Cristosal's Community Development Program directly addresses the root causes of this crisis by building local development processes from the bottom up, empowering people as citizens to forge stable and profitable livelihoods critical to constructing a peaceful and democratic society.

Women in Las Anemonas, one of Cristosal's partner communities, 
attend a meeting of the savings, loan and consumer cooperative.

3. Ensuring Access to Justice

Stability and security in El Salvador is dependent on a transparent and functioning justice system. Yet the number of unresolved cases and outstanding allegations continue to increase every year, with 900 in 2010, 1,000 in 2011 and 1,085 in 2012.Cristosal's Office of Human Rights works to reverse this trend, providing legal assistance and advising to victims of violence, working with them to effectively seek recourse for crimes committed though the Salvadoran legal system. In this process, citizens learn the means and methods of holding their justicial system accountable.

4. Advocating for Reform in El Salvador

In response to this crisis, the United States is pressing Central American leaders to act to address the issues that are causing the dramatic increase in migration. Cristosal is working with other civil society organizations in El Salvador to pressure Central American governments to officialy declare a humanitarian crisis and coordinate immediate actions for mitigation, including medium-and long-term strategies to resolve the root causes.

The Presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras met last Friday to discuss the crisis.

5. Advocating for Action in the U.S.

Though current US law contains special protections for unaccompanied minors additional financial and legal assistance is needed to ensure these children receive the help they are entitled to. Cristosal is supporting the plan presented by Sens. Menendez, Durbin, Hirono, and Reps. Gutierrez and Roybal-Allard to Address the Humanitarian and Refugee Crisis on the Southern Border and in Central America and is advocating for the U.S. to approve a temporary protection status for Central American minors that have viable claims to humanitarian protections under international law.

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