UN human rights chief 'appalled' at condition of migrant facilities in US

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday said she is appalled by conditions in which the U.S. is holding migrants and refugees.

"As a paediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of State, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions,” Bachelet said in a statement


Bachelet said the U.N. human rights bodies have found the detention of migrant children may constitute inhumane or degrading treatment — and could be violating international law. 

“Detaining a child even for short periods under good conditions can have a serious impact on their health and development — consider the damage being done every day by allowing this alarming situation to continue," she said.

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General released a report last week, outlining "dangerous overcrowding" and "prolonged detention of children and adults" at border facilities in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

The report included photos illustrating the overcrowding of migrants in small, fenced areas. 

Officials have pushed back on the reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions, which have been repeated by the inspector general, lawmakers and in the accounts of detained migrant children.

President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE tweeted on Sunday that the conditions at the facilities were being exaggerated.

"The Fake News Media, in particular the Failing @nytimes, is writing phony and exaggerated accounts of the Border Detention Centers," Trump tweeted.

Bachelet is urging authorities to find noncustodial alternatives for migrants and refugees. 

Detainment should be a "last resort," and for the shortest time possible, she said. 

"In most of these cases, the migrants and refugees have embarked on perilous journeys with their children in search of protection and dignity and away from violence and hunger," Bachelet said. "When they finally believe they have arrived in safety, they may find themselves separated from their loved ones and locked in undignified conditions. This should never happen anywhere.”