UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- The UN children's fund (UNICEF) stressed the need to uphold special protection for migrant children, especially those who are traveling alone, amid a refugee spike from Guatemala to Mexico, a UN spokesperson said Thursday.
The agency's remark came after it revealed that more than 12,000 people, including 3,000 children, have traveled from Guatemala to Mexico over the past two weeks, according to Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN chief.
UNICEF also noted more than 30,000 children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador were temporarily held in detention centers last year, Dujarric said.
"The Mexican government recently pledged to end detention of all child migrants and UNICEF is supporting these efforts by helping develop alternatives to detention such as open shelters, day centers and humanitarian visas," he said.
UNICEF is also providing assistance to ensure that unaccompanied children receive appropriate care, he added.
In the meantime, UNICEF is seeking 3.9 billion U.S. dollars to aid 41 million children in need of humanitarian aid in 59 countries for 2019.
Funding for child protection programs accounts for 385 million dollars of the overall appeal, including almost 121 million dollars for protection services for children affected by the Syria crisis.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said: "Today millions of children living through conflict or disaster are suffering horrific levels of violence, distress and trauma... The impact of our child protection work cannot be overstated."
"When children do not have safe places to play, when they cannot be reunited with their families, when they do not receive psychosocial support, they will not heal from the unseen scars of war," she said.