U.N. chief amid U.S. immigration uproar: do not separate children from parents

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends the annual Kultaranta Talks - debate session on foreign and security policy at the Presidential Summer Residence Kultaranta in Naantali, Finland on June 18, 2018. Lehtikuva/Roni Rekomaa/ via REUTERS

NEW YORK (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that refugee and migrant “children must not be traumatized by being separated from their parents” as U.S. President Donald Trump faces heavy pressure to stop such a policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Family unity must be preserved,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “The Secretary-General believes that refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect and dignity, and in accordance with existing international law.”

Democrats and some in Trump’s own Republican Party have strongly condemned the administration for separating nearly 2,000 children from their parents at the border between mid-April and the end of May. Medical professionals have said the practice could cause lasting trauma to children.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool