Written by Diana Martínez and Araceli Peña, Independent Monitoring Group of El Salvador

As part of the work of International Detention Coalition, a joint project was undertaken with Aldeas Infantiles, the Institute for Women in Migration, and the Independent Monitoring Group of El Salvador, to develop a specialised course on child and adolescent migrants, with academic accreditation by the Specialised Institute of Higher Education for Diplomatic Training in El Salvador (IEESFORD).

The main objective of the course was to contribute to the analysis, identification, development, and integration of solutions to the main challenges facing migrant children in the region. The course was conducted for public officials, representatives of civil society organisations, and local governments of member states of the Regional Conference on Migration, whose work is both directly or indirectly related to migration.

Due to the COVID-19 emergency health crisis still facing the region, the 9-week course was conducted virtually on the IEESFORD platform. Sessions combined conceptual elements and practical exercises which helped participants to obtain greater understanding through dialogue, master classes, virtual forum discussions and questionnaires.

The course had a positive response, with 47 participants from 7 countries in the region, all of whom are members of various public institutions, international entities, and civil society organisations. Of the 47 registered participants, 33 were women and 14 were men.

The participating bodies included:

  • Belize The Immigration Department of Belize
  • Dominican Republic The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Board for Migration and Refugees
  • Guatemala La Casa del Migrante, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Guatemalan Migration Institute, Casa Nuestro Raices, the Secretariat of Social Welfare, and the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala
  • Honduras The Secretariat of Foreign Relations, the Office of Migration, the Directorate of Children, Adolescents and Family, the Municipal Mayor of Tegucigalpa and the General Secretariat of the Government of Honduras
  • Mexico The COMAR, the National Institute of Migration, the Federal Protection Attorney, SIPINNA and the DIF from Mexico
  • Nicaragua The Ministry of Education, the Nicaraguan School for Migration and Immigration and Aldeas Infantiles
  • El Salvador The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and the National Council for Children and Adolescents

The course included issues such as understanding the reality of migrant children, as well as the government and civil society response to migrant protection. In particular, Dr. Luciana Gandini presented the topic as: “Situations of vulnerability and differentiated care. Impacts on accompanied and unaccompanied migrant children: before, during and after their journeys.” She then analysed the increase in numbers of children leaving their home countries, as well as the issue of child immigration detention.

Without a doubt, in order to guarantee better protection and best interest determination of children, the professionalisation of actors charged with protecting migrant children and adolescents is both urgent and necessary. This course helped to provide them with a greater understanding of the dynamics that lead children to abandon their home countries and expose themselves to risks, including the risk of immigration detention.