USA Migrants trapped in Mexico live ‘terrified’ by Coronavirus epidemic

The migratory wave that crosses the Mexican territory to reach the United States is a latent regional phenomenon that worsened in late 2018 with the emergence of massive caravans.


Thousands of migrants trapped in the northern and southern borders of Mexico, crowded in camps or begging on the streets, are ‘terrified’ of the spread of Covid-19, a pandemic that has hampered their asylum processes in this country and The United States plunging them into total uncertainty. The migratory wave that crosses the Mexican territory to reach the United States is a latent regional phenomenon that worsened in late 2018 with the emergence of massive caravans.
Migrants trapped in Mexico live ‘terrified’ by coronavirus epidemic
Mexico City News Update: - Thousands of migrants trapped in the northern and southern borders of Mexico, crowded in camps or begging on the streets, are ‘terrified’ of the spread of Covid-19, a pandemic that has hampered their asylum processes in this country and The United States plunging them into total uncertainty.
‘The whole atmosphere is fearful, we are terrified,’ an undocumented Ecuadorian confesses by phone from a migrant camp in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, very close to the US border, where about 2,000 people survive, Ugobleno News.
‘If an infection does occur, it will be a situation of total chaos, I don't even want to imagine what would happen,’ adds the 30-year-old man, on condition of anonymity.
With his wife, his 12-year-old son and his four-year-old daughter, they also suffer the severe emotional shock caused by the suspension in the United States of the hearings of the ‘Stay in Mexico’ (MPP) program. They had an appointment in late April.
Mexico also closed regional offices for the processing of asylums due to the contingency.
In these shelters, migrants sometimes do not eat and leaving the tents to go to work carries the high risk of being kidnapped. Overcrowded, complying with the basic rules for not contracting the coronavirus is practically impossible.

Keeping distance or washing your hands frequently is out of reach and there is no isolation center for any infected.

‘We are abandoned, we are in no man's land,’ added the Ecuadorian who fled his country due to hunger and threats from gang members.
‘There are 2,000 people in less than one hectare. It is necessary for the federal government to promote their voluntary repatriation and to relocate the camp. It is in a wild area, said Enrique Maciel Cervantes, head of the Tamaulipeco Institute for the Migrant in Matamoros.
Driven by fear of ‘dying from that bug,’ some cross the Río Bravo, like a Cuban migrant who was later detained and returned to Tijuana (northwest), on the other end of the border, the Ecuadorian recounted.
‘We do not know what to do, but returning to my country now, less than ever is an option,’ regrets this native of Guayaquil.

Migrant closure

Migrants in Matamoros, an area overrun with drug traffickers, face a closed border and cannot return to their countries. ‘People are very stressed, they are very afraid,’ warns the director for Mexico and Central America of Doctors Without Borders, Loïc Jaeger.

The situation in shelters operated by civil or religious associations is similar at other points on the border.

At the Casa del Migrante in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, also bordering the United States, entry was restricted and its owner, priest Francisco Javier Calvillo, begs for help from the government.
‘Ask me if anyone has come to bring us face masks,’ he said. Restrictions on crossings for non-essential travel between the two countries greatly reduced donations to the hostel, added the priest.
‘I have a population that does not go out, those who went to work no longer go out’ to avoid infections and confinement makes them desperate, describes Calvillo.
Fear of disease has also fueled riots at stations of the Migration Institute.
Last week, one person was suffocated and 14 others were poisoned when some detainees burned mats at a Tabasco (southeast) immigration station.
‘If we force people to stay in places where they know they are exposed to the pandemic... they will react; they are not willing to take that risk,’ says Jaeger.
Mexico has 3,181 confirmed cases and 174 deaths. The government estimates that 250,000 people will become infected in the worst-case scenario and the hospital system can give intensive care to only 5%.

‘Where would it be better to die?’

The migratory flows that cross Mexican territory to reach the United States are a latent regional phenomenon that worsened in late 2018 with the emergence of massive caravans.
In Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala, the Pueblos Sin Frontera organization estimates that there are about 70,000 undocumented immigrants. Since they are prohibited from congregating in parks, they hide in the undergrowth on the outskirts of the city.
‘The public dining rooms have closed and also the shops where the migrants could earn a coin to eat. The panorama is of hunger, they are going to get sick more easily,’ warns Raúl Abeja, a member of that organization.
Douglas Vazques, a 22-year-old Guatemalan, says by phone from Tapachula that he used to go a day without eating before, but in recent weeks there have been as much as three days without eating a bite.
‘I am in the bones. People now keep their food with everything that is happening, they treat us worse now, as plagued,’ says Vazques, who in the face of this new misfortune asks himself: ‘Where will it be better to die?’ 
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