IOM Renovates Care Centre for Unaccompanied Child Returnees in El Salvador
El Salvador - IOM has completed the refurbishment of a Child Protection Center managed by the Salvadoran Institute for the Development of Children and Youth (ISNA) in El Salvador.
This is the first of two shelters that IOM will upgrade to improve standards of care, accommodation, and welfare assistance for vulnerable minors returning from abroad. Both shelters can accommodate some 100 unaccompanied underage returnees at a time, usually for periods of 24-48 hours.
The shelters both needed major structural improvements to turn them into safe, child friendly spaces that comply with national and international standards, according to IOM El Salvador project manager Ernesto Amaya.
The refurbishment was part of IOM’s USAID-funded regional project "Comprehensive Assistance to Returning Families and Unaccompanied Children in the Northern Triangle of Central America.”
The first part of the work, which has now been completed, focused on improving the shelter’s communal living areas and the girls’ bedrooms. It included new plumbing, wiring and gas pipes, new bathrooms, a new counselling office and the refurbishment of the dorms to create cozy and private spaces for teenagers.
"I’m thankful to those who’ve helped improve the conditions in which we live, the dorms are very nice and we are happy. We feel important,” said Maria*, a girl living in the shelter.
The second stage will focus on building additional dormitories and the addition of child-friendly recreational areas to improve the overall environment.
"This project is about providing services and infrastructure to create a comfortable and safe environment for young people. This was originally conceived as a correctional facility, but should be a place for children and adolescents to overcome the hardships they experienced," says Executive Director of ISNA Elda Tobar.
Between January 2014 to March 2015, El Salvador’s Department of Migration and Foreign Affairs recorded 5,935 migrant children returning from the United States and Mexico. Formerly, unaccompanied minors were housed with other vulnerable children and adolescents, which hampered their reintegration.
IOM is supporting efforts to develop regional and national strategies aimed at generating a coordinated response by the Salvadoran government on the reception of families and unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents.