UNICEF warns of desperate conditions for migrant caravan's children

Honduran migrants taking part in a caravan heading to the U.S., camp during a stop in their journey, Huixtla, Oct. 23.

As a caravan of thousands of migrants makes its way through Mexico to the U.S., an estimated 2,300 children suffer from worsening humanitarian conditions

Some of the estimated 2,300 children traveling with the migrant caravan in southern Mexico are ill or suffering from dehydration, the United Nation's Children agency said on Friday.

The U.N. agency called Friday for the migrant children to be given protection and access to health care, clean water and other essentials. It said it is working with Mexican authorities to provide drinking water and hygiene products.

UNICEF warns the long and difficult journey to the U.S. border has left the children "exposed to inclement weather, including dangerously hot temperatures, with limited access to proper shelter." The agency added that while many of the migrants are fleeing violence or poverty in their home countries, "the journey is long, uncertain and full of danger, including the risk of exploitation, violence and abuse."

Two weeks of walking have taken a toll on a caravan of migrants now estimated at more than 4,000 as it slowly marches through Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state that is far from their goal of reaching the United States.

Many of the migrants say they are dreaming of finding better lives in the United States. They say they have been driven to leave their homelands by severe poverty and rising gang violence. Such caravans have taken place regularly, if on a smaller scale, over the years, but U.S. President Donald Trump has seized on the phenomenon this year.

The Trump administration is planning to dispatch 800 or more active duty troops to the southern border at the direction of a president who has sought to transform fears about immigration into electoral gains in the midterms. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to sign an order sending the troops to the border, bolstering National Guard forces already there, a U.S. official said Thursday.

Trump had signaled his intention to send more troops last week, tweeting that unless Mexico stopped the "onslaught" of people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, he would "call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!" He has also announced the U.S. would start cutting aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The New York Times reported Thursday night that Trump is considering issuing an executive order to block Central American migrants from crossing the border. It would invoke the same section of immigration law that Trump cited to back up his Muslim travel ban, the Times said. The order would also create new laws disqualifying migrants who cross the border in between ports of entry from claiming asylum, the Times said, quoting people familiar with the plan, although exceptions would be made for people facing torture at home. Altogether the order would prevent hundreds in the caravan from entering the U.S. and asking for asylum, the newspaper said.

"To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally," Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon. "Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!"

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