The Child Victims of Honduras

24/7/2009 - Children and families in Honduras are some of the poorest. Even with political instability ripe within the country,  child charities are concerned with the safety and security of Honduran youth.

Former Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, has reportedly moved to the Nicaraguan town of Esteli near the Honduran border. He is said to be seeking to re-enter the country after US-mediated discussions fell apart.

The coup has been condemned by many governments, though supporters of both sides have been protesting inside the country. Zelaya’s opponents accuse him primarily of attempting to change the constitution to extend his presidential term, as well as a range of other abuses including involvement in the drug trade as well as misappropriation of public funds. Zelaya’s rebuttal contends that these accusations are political in nature.

Yet, the unseen and greatest victims of political instability witnessed all over Latin America and other developing countries are the average families and their children. Honduras’ 28% unemployment rate means that nearly a third of the population is unable to find a meaningful livelihood. 58% of Central Americans live in poverty, with about 30% living on just a bit more that $1 a day. In Honduras, the proportion of people living in poverty is thought to be as high as 60%.

Children are often kidnapped for ransom money, which burdens already financially strapped families and can cause serious psychosocial trauma to the children.

And, on a daily basis, street children in Honduras face vulnerability to violence, being trafficked into the drug trade and murder. Many of these children risk incarceration or death as they become teenagers and join gangs. In the past six years, says Casa Alianza, a shelter program for homeless youth, the deaths of over 3 000 children and teenagers have been under police investigation. According to this organization, child deaths have been on the rise especially since 2004 after a marked decrease in 2003.

Since 1990, reports UNICEF, child mortality rates along with child malnutrition, have been declining – progress.  But still, what about the children who have not benefited from this progress? Roughly a third of Honduran infants still do not have access to adequate nutrition, while nine children lose their mother or father to AIDS every day.

Stable governance that benefits the Honduran citizens is one of the most important development issues to consider. Nevertheless, even as we wonder who is taking care of the state, we must never stop questioning, who is looking after the children?