AIYD Calls on Congress and the Administration to Continue Support for US government-funded programs in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador
Washington, D.C., April 10, 2019 – The Alliance for International Youth Development, a group of leading US-based international development organizations, calls on Congress and the Administration to continue support for US government-funded programs in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. No one wants to flee their homes, but many young people are desperate to find alternatives to lives of forced gang violence and sexual exploitation. US development assistance is providing much-needed support to secondary, vocational and higher education, expanding access to employment and entrepreneurship, and providing violence prevention services to at-risk youth.
US aid programs aimed at youth are not purely altruistic. They are essential to a comprehensive strategy that combines diplomacy, development, and security cooperation. And they work: The Washington Post reported the rate of migration from El Salvador has been cut in half in the last year.
Here are some examples of how US foreign assistance in the Northern Triangle of Central America is making a difference all Americans can be proud of:
Addressing the root causes of large-scale migration by harnessing and directing the energy of youth movements and emerging leaders can offer a different kind of leadership than the gangs that threaten their communities. Providing support and mentoring equips youth leaders to address many of the key issues that drive migration: fear of gang extortion and violence, poor public education and health care that limits potential, and the corruption that undermines functioning local and national governance.
Crime and violence prevention initiatives in El Salvador improve citizen safety by providing alternatives for youth who are at risk of becoming targets or perpetrators of crime. Working with local organizations and government entities, these programs target the drivers of migration, such as violence and unemployment. For example, more than 150 community-run centers have been established where 30,000 at-risk youth have received tutoring, learned computer skills, vocational skills and more under adult supervision. Today, municipal prevention centers provide citizens with a “one-stop shop” for crime and violence prevention services, including conflict resolution, employment facilitation, services for women and youth and legal guidance.
Higher Education for Economic Growth initiatives are supporting thousands of students from communities prone to violence known for sending migrants to the US to acquire science and technology degrees. Thanks to U.S. government funding thousands of students are able to aspire to jobs in high-growth sectors such as ICT, energy, light manufacturing and agro-industry. They are part of a new generation who will be employable and productive citizens, fully capable to contribute to the economic growth of their countries.
By acting as a good neighbor and helping these countries counter the hopelessness born out of indiscriminate violence and the lack of opportunities the U.S. is providing lifelines to youth in the region and addressing the root causes of migration.