US to use military base to house 600 migrant kids

2014-06-10 14:10
US Border. (Ross D Franklin, AP)

US Border. (Ross D Franklin, AP)

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Washington - Some 600 children who crossed into the US illegally and on their own from Mexico will be housed temporarily at a military base in Oklahoma, the Defence Department said on Monday.

The children will probably start arriving at Ft. Sill this week, said a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steven Warren.

Part of the base has been ceded to the Department of Health and Human Services and the children will stay there for an initial period of 120 days, although this might be extended, Warren said.

"Our support is limited to the loan of vacant facilities, and this effort has no impact on DOD's ability to conduct its primary missions," he said, referring to the Department of Defence.

The facilities that will receive the children are normally used for training.

They have beds, bathrooms and recreation areas, and the kids will be accompanied by educational supervisors until they can be reunited with their families or taken in temporarily by host families.

Last week President Barack Obama ordered the creation of an inter-governmental task force to address the growing number of minors who cross the south west US border illegally and without supervision. He called this an urgent humanitarian situation.

The task force is to come up with ways and resources to help the children including shelter and health care.

The White House director of domestic policy, Cecilia Munoz, said that in the past month the number of unaccompanied minors caught crossing the border with Mexico, particularly in Texas, as risen substantially.

She said most who make the dangerous trip, where they are known often to be robbed and abused by crime gangs, are from Central America. 

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