As hunger rates continue to soar in Venezuela amid the economic crisis, some parents can no longer cope, leading them to do the unthinkable: Giving up their children.
There are no official statistics on how many children are abandoned or sent to orphanages and care homes by their parents for economic reasons. But private and public organizations that manage children in crisis suggest that the cases number in the hundreds, or possible more, nationwide.
In 2014 Venezuela descended into a deep recession after a drop in global oil prices and years of economic mismanagement on the part of the socialist government. The crisis has worsened in the past year. A recent study by the Catholic charity Caritas in poorer areas of four states found the percentage of children under 5 lacking adequate nutrition has jumped to 71 percent.
The Venezuelan government has been heavily criticized for its use of repressive measures to put down anti-government protests, including “excessive direct use of firearms against demonstrators, along with indiscriminate use of tear gas.” There have also been reports of sexual violence against detained protestors.
More than 100 people were killed and thousands were detained in protests between April and July of last year.
Image credit: Michael Welling