The United Nations has warned of a dramatic rise in the number of migrant children in Latin America and the Caribbean, saying the region is facing an unprecedented crisis.
According to the UN, more than 2.9 million children, young people and vulnerable adults are now on the move, up from 1.5 million three years ago, making them the highest group ever recorded.
The alarming figures include nearly 500,000 unaccompanied minors travelling without parents, guardians or relatives.
The trend is similar to what is happening in other parts of the world, such as Europe and North America, where large numbers of children are fleeing extreme poverty, violence and human rights abuses.
In response, the UN has called for an urgent and coordinated action plan to tackle the underlying causes of the migration crisis, including poverty, inequality and government violence.
It also wants greater access to education, health care and social services for migrant children to ensure their long-term welfare.
In a statement, the UN said: “The current levels of migration of children and young people can no longer be considered a local phenomenon. It requires a regional response, an international solidarity and greater urgency on the part of all countries to recognize the rights these children, young people and adult migrants have.”